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EU urges governments for detailed aid plans on world hunger

10 April 2008

BRUSSELS – The European Commission on Wednesday urged European governments to submit detailed plans on how they intend to provide billions in aid to halve world hunger by 2015.

"(European Union) member states should set out clearly what they are prepared to spend on aid, year by year, until 2015," the EU executive’s president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said.

At around 850 million, the number of chronically undernourished people in the world remains stubbornly high, and United Nations officials have warned that world governments will likely fail to reach their 1996 Millennium Development Goal of halving the number by 2015.

The EU remains by far the biggest donor in the world, with each EU citizen providing, on average, EUR 93 (CHF 147) in aid each year, compared with EUR 53 (CHF 84) donated by citizens in the United States and with EUR 44 (CHF 70) donated by the Japanese.

However, the volume of EU aid in 2007 decreased for the first time since 2000, from EUR 47.7 billion in 2006 to EUR 46.1 billion. And of the four biggest EU donors – Britain, France, Germany and Italy – only Germany maintained its aid level, while France cut its aid by the biggest amount.

"We have a problem, a serious problem," Barroso said Wednesday. "We cannot meet our goals without more financial resources for development aid."

Only a dozen EU countries provide detailed annual aid budgets. Barroso said this should now be done by all of the EU’s 27 member states.

"Please explain your plans, year by year, on how you intend to fulfil your commitments," Barroso told European leaders.

Barroso acknowledged that his office could not force governments to do what was asked of them, saying all he could do was to appeal to public opinion.

Nearly 190 United Nations member states have endorsed eight Millennium Development Goals that need to be reached by 2015.

These include halving the number of people who suffer from hunger and extreme poverty, getting every small child in the world to school, significantly reducing child mortality and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Talking in Brussels on Wednesday, the commission president vowed to table discussions on such goals during the EU’s annual summer summit in June and at a Group of Eight meeting in Japan in May.

[dpa / Expatica]