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Compromise on the EU Budget Will Put Millions of People on the Line
WASHINGTON - February 6 - The compromise that EU leaders are set to reach on the European Union's long term budget this week will put millions of people on the line, Oxfam warned today ahead of the European Council.
Oxfam estimates that the proposed €6.1 billion cuts to EU humanitarian and development aid could be enough to have lifted more than 4.6 million people in the poorest countries out of extreme poverty. The proposed cuts to emergency aid alone would mean the EU is turning a blind eye on the plight of 150 million people affected by disasters or conflicts.
Cuts target aid disproportionately
Oxfam is calling on EU leaders to protect EU aid from the hard bargaining over the next seven-year budget and reverse the proposed cuts that are disproportionately targeting aid, because proposed cuts to other sectors of the budget are marginal in comparison.
The call comes ahead of the meeting of EU Heads of States and Governments on the 7-8 February in Brussels where leaders are expected to strike a deal on a budget of ‘moderation’. Oxfam fears they will use development and humanitarian aid as a bargaining chip to protect other parts of the budget, for their own national interests.
“The proposed downsizing of the EU’s aid budget actually means a frozen budget at current levels, if not a real terms cut. This is a strange signal for the EU to send in its first budget under the Lisbon treaty. At a time when our growing global interdependence is increasingly obvious and additional political and financial commitments are required to promote a sustainable and equitable future for all, this is a breach of faith,” said Natalia Alonso, Head of Oxfam’s EU Office.
Negotiations behind closed doors
“It is grossly unfair to balance the books on the backs of the world’s poor who are being worst hit by financial and economic crises they did not cause. EU leaders should look for smarter options to find their way out of the current crisis, like tackling tax havens.
“When they negotiate behind closed doors this week, EU leaders should think about the human faces behind the budgets they intend to slash. EU aid is not only a sound investment in our common future but also an act of solidarity that delivers lifesaving aid and lifts millions of people out of poverty around the globe. And all this costs less than a weekly cup of coffee for each European citizen.”