European aid must move past 'donor-recipient' model

The EU has an excellent opportunity to revise its development policies in 2015, says Louis Michel.

By Louis Michel

02 Feb 2015

The European year for development is an excellent opportunity for us to revise our policies on development. We urgently need to bring a decisive end to the idea of charity where the donor-recipient relationship is still too firmly rooted in an association of ambivalent dependency. This outmoded type of partnership too often engenders feelings of humiliation and frustration for which there is no justification, and which may at times exonerate the elite in developing countries of their responsibility. Real partnership is where an equal relationship exists between partners based on genuine exchange, open, constructive dialogue, mutual respect and trust.

2015 was to be the deadline for achieving the millennium development goals. However, although significant progress has been made with respect to some targets, it has to be said that, on the whole, the results show a considerable shortfall. Rich countries have still not fulfilled their commitment to financing the UN official development assistance target of 0.7 per cent. It is worth reminding donors of the need for them to honour their commitment to this moral contract.

The EU is the world's largest donor of development aid. Therefore, this year will be an opportunity to inform European citizens of this fact by showing them the positive impact their contributions have had on relieving the incalculable human suffering experienced by people living in poor countries. But the effectiveness of development aid, combating terrorism, transparency in conflict mineral trading, appropriate use of natural resources, the establishment of social security for all, fair taxation, economic partnership agreements, regional integration, budgetary aid, are all topics that require debate.

"Africa and Europe share a common destiny forged from a common history and an interdependent relationship"

Finally, we would do well to commit ourselves more fully to supporting economic development based individual initiatives, and to promote the establishment of SMEs and family businesses. Development in these countries will only be at the cost of supporting the creation of business initiatives.

2015 will also be the year when the establishment and building of impartial public institutions is strongly advocated, without which there can be no rule of law, access to justice, education, a service-minded administration for citizens, health services, culture, and humane, well-trained police forces.

Africa and Europe share a common destiny forged from a common history and an interdependent relationship. Europeans and Africans are natural allies. A strong, genuine, essential alliance between these two great and beautiful continents could create a peaceful and prosperous future. Together, they could potentially have a decisive influence in creating a new, more just, more united and freer world order.

The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, the massacre of 2000 people by Boko Haram in Nigeria, or even the Taliban attack resulting in the deaths of more than 141 people, 132 of which were children, on a school in Pakistan last December, remind us once again that we all belong to a common humanity. Real, genuine solidarity is the only weapon we have to confront this situation. Therefore, we must build battlefronts with our partners to protect ourselves against the threats facing us all.

In aiding partner countries in their constant battle against poverty, we cannot help but be moved by the optimism of the people's will. As the Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu once said, "I cannot know happiness if others do not know it, and I cannot fully enjoy it if others do not enjoy it as much as I do".


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