Lifting poor countries out of poverty is a key aim of the EU. And it is a huge task. More than 1 billion people around the world live on a Euro a day or less. One third of them are in sub-Saharan Africa.
To watch Liz O'Donnell former Minister of State for Development Aid and Human Rights at the Department of Foreign Affairs talk about the impact of Irish development aid for the developing world click here:
Justin Kilcullen, Director of Trócaire & Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern speak of the social impact of the EU and its role in international development.
The European Union and its member states currently provide the majority of the world’s development assistance. In 2008, the total value was approx €49 billion, which translates to nearly €100 per person in the 27 member states. This compares to €53 per person from the United States and €69 from Japan.
African countries receive €15 billion annually, the lion’s share of EU development assistance.
From the outset of the Union, the member states have been trying to eradicate poverty and suffering around the world and to promote peace. Even Ireland has been helped as a result of this goal as the EU funded many of the cross-border education and youth partnerships that were so important for Northern Ireland and the border counties in the years after the Good Friday Agreement. These programmes facilitated understanding and addressed intolerance, sectarianism, racism and segregation. These programmes have been a model for the EU in developing supports for post-conflict societies elsewhere in Europe and around the world. The EU has always aimed to help societies recover after conflict, it’s why we operate in places that without the EU would be ‘Aid orphans’.
That includes countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territories, and several parts of Africa. As well as less well-known places like Chechnya, Kashmir, Nepal, Burma (Myanmar), the Western Sahara and Colombia.
Whether it’s in conflict zones or in areas of extreme deprivation and hunger, the European Consensus on Development has set the creation of peace and the eradication of poverty as primary objectives.
Those are goals that fit well with Ireland’s traditional commitment to help people in need. The advantage of EU membership is that the EU allows Ireland to influence policy and provide help in areas where we would not be able to provide assistance operating on our own.