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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Netherlands calls for more effectiveness in EU aid projects

The Netherlands wants the European Commission to explain some of the “misguided” development projects the European Union is funding, following the release of a report claiming that less than half of EU foreign aid goes to the world’s poorest countries. The report by the U.K.-based think tank Open Europe says EU aid spending lacks a focus on poverty and is subject to unnecessary transaction and administration costs. The think tank says it also found evidence of poor project selection, citing EU’s support for a €500,000 ($728,333) dance training initiative in Burkina Faso. “This strikes me as totally unnecessary. And that’s a shame, because EU development aid is very important, including for the Netherlands. And in fact, in the past ten years quality has been improving,” Dutch Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen said, while urging for more effectiveness in EU aid projects. Knapen said the EU should focus more on energy, agriculture and infrastructure and spend far less on budget support, unless for governments that can be trusted to respect and uphold human rights.