Bill Gates: Aid effort 'phenomenal'
Bill Gates has told the European Parliament that the EU must sustain its foreign aid commitments even as it struggles with its own economic crisis.
On a visit to the parliament's development committee yesterday the philanthropist and world's second richest man praised Europe for its "phenomenal commitment". Gates is touring the continent to launch the Living Proof campaign, which will highlight success stories in foreign aid.
In 2007 the EU and its member states spent €53.8bn on development aid or 0.43 per cent of GDP – a rise of €4.5bn on 2009 but still well short of the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2015. Gates said that if that target is met, the Millennium Development Goals to reduce global poverty could be achieved within 10 years.
Andris Piebalgs, the Development Commissioner, said Europe was the world's leading donor in 2010. But, he added: "Aid budgets still represent less than 1 per cent of national GNI. They must be increased if we are to meet our ambitious goals for 2015 and remain credible. This is a collective effort and we need all players to contribute their fair share. Aid is a smart investment in the future.
"But efficient aid is not only about money. We must also improve the delivery and quality of the aid we provide. Later this year, I will put proposals on the table regarding the clearer focus of the future of development policy, better cooperation, and a higher impact on the ground."
Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Denmark have already achieved the 0.7 per cent target, while Germany, France and the United Kingdom are among the top five donors worldwide.
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