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Life-saving aid under 'silent attack' in EU budget negotiations

31 January 2013

EU leaders urged to speak up for the voiceless in budget negotiations, as research reveals women and girls will be hardest hit

Plan, an international development and humanitarian organisation, warns that life-saving aid is under silent attack from EU leaders looking to make short-sighted budget savings.

As heads of state and government prepare to meet in Brussels for a special summit where they will attempt to reach agreement on the EU’s long-term budget, the child rights organisation warns there is no “voice for the voiceless” at the negotiating table – particularly girls and young women, which new research shows are likely to be hardest hit by proposed cuts.

“With nobody at the negotiating table defending the rights and interests of the world’s most vulnerable citizens, it’s easy for EU leaders to simply slash the aid budget. We saw at the last summit [in November 2012] that development and humanitarian aid is being disproportionately targeted for cuts because nobody seems to be willing to act as the voice of the voiceless. In times of austerity leaders might looking to make savings, but these must not cost lives,” said Karen Schroh, Head of Plan EU Office in Brussels.

EU aid works

In an open letter to EU Heads of State or Government sent today (31 January 2013), 11 Plan Europe National Directors warn that the bloc will be unable to play the leading role it wants to play in the world without making a strong commitment to its partners in the south.

“The European Union stands at an important junction. The decisions you make at the European Council on 7-8 February on the Union’s long term budget for 2014-2020 will determine the path you choose to take the EU down, both at home and in our relations with the wider world,” it says.

In the most recent proposals, European Council President has disproportionately targeted EU aid – which accounts for only 5.47%* of spending in the European Commission’s proposal – in an attempt to make savings and mediate the competing priorities of member states.

Women and girls hardest hit

New research released by Plan shows that girls’ and young women are already bearing the brunt of the economic crisis. The report, produced by Plan and the Overseas Development Institute, finds that family poverty has more impact on a girls’ survival than boys; a one per cent fall in GDP increases infant mortality by 7.4 deaths per 1000 births for girls versus 1.5 for boys.

“If member states proceed with drastic cuts to the proposed EU aid budget, this is likely to have a disproportionately negative effect on girls and young women, and austerity budgets that hit children and young people the hardest risk sacrificing future prosperity for short term goals,” added Schroh.

Editor's notes

For more information contact

Louise Hagendijk
Communications and media officer, Plan EU Office
Louise.hagendijk@plan-international.org
0032 2504 6056

* This figure is calculated according to the amounts earmarked in the European Commission’s proposal for EU aid both within and outside the Multiannual Financial Framework, specifically the following: Development Cooperation Instrument, Humanitarian Aid, Emergency Aid Reserve and European Development Fund.

FAST FACTS ON EU AID:

Between 2004-2009 (unless otherwise stated), aid from the European Commission helped achieve:
• Between 2002-2009, 24 million people living in extreme poverty benefited from seeds and tools, direct cash transfers and food.
• More than nine million pupils have been enrolled in primary education, and more than 720,000 primary school teachers have been trained.
• 5.5 million children under the age of one were immunised against measles
• More than 10 million consultations on reproductive health were carried out and four million births attended by health personnel
• Over 31 million people connected to drinking water and 9.3 million connections to sanitation facilities.
Source: EuropeAid