UK & World News
Report: Most EU Aid Goes To Richer Nations
Less than half of Europe's development aid budget goes to the neediest, low-income countries, MPs have warned.
A report by a House of Commons Committee has challenged the Government, which provided £1.23bn in aid via the EU in 2010, to demand tougher standards to make sure nations that really need help are getting it.
It found that 54% of EU aid for developing countries was going to countries that are relatively better-off, including Serbia and Turkey.
"Turkey has consistently been in the top five recipients of European Commission aid (£182m in 2010) as has Serbia (£178m in 2010)," the report says.
"British taxpayers want the aid they give to go to the places where it can make the most difference, to countries where millions of people are getting by on less than a pound a day," said Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce who chairs the International Development Committee.
Mr Bruce warned: "Giving aid to relatively rich countries like Turkey could devalue the concept of aid."
The committee urged the UK to demand that future funding be diverted from higher middle-income countries bordering Europe to give greater help to the poorest people in the world.
But it praised the benefits of the EU as a conduit for development aid, saying some member states would spend less on aid were it not for the European Commission.
The EU has a presence in countries where the UK has no bilateral aid programmes, enabling London to play a part in development support for countries such as Niger and Haiti.
Oxfam welcomed pressure for re-targeting aid towards the poorest.
"We fully support MPs' call for EU aid to be targeted where it is most needed," said Oxfam policy adviser Claire Godfrey.
"If aid is not about helping the poorest then it is not worthy of the name."
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell backed the report's call for more aid attention on poorest countries: "We absolutely agree with the Committee that the EU must refocus its aid on the poorest countries and cut out waste and inefficiency," he said.
"Following relentless pressure from the Coalition Government, the EU is already reforming the way it spends aid, making it more transparent, results-focused and targeted at the poorest people."
But he defended support for Turkey, insisting: "Supporting Turkish accession to the EU has been the policy of successive British governments and is firmly in the national interest."