03 MAR 2011
Interview with Simon Stocker, the Director of EUROSTEP, which is a network of the European non-governmental development organizations based in Brussels, Belgium.
Voice of Russia
Before we start to discuss what are the major reasons why these aid programs seem to have failed, could you tell us a little bit more about what these aid programs are?
The European Union program is made up of different parts. If you want to talk about the European Union program managed by the Commission, it is made of about 20% of the European aid program; the rest is from the member states. Collectively they provide something like 60% of what is known as the official development assistance. So let me talk about the European Commission program. The European Commission program is directed to many countries in the world, it provides all kind of different support for developments, but it is based on the policy which is clearly directed or should be directed towards the eradication of poverty. It is managed by the Commission, it is a multiannual program, but it also relates to the interests of the European Union, as well as to basic things like health, education, sanitation of water, building of roads and infrastructure, etc.
But then how come that Mr Cameron said that obviously since those countries had such protests, implying that their governments didn’t use their money appropriately, what is the connection between the EU aid program and the development of democracy in those countries?
I think that the North Africa countries, the Arab countries is an example of the fact that the interest of the European Union has been more dominant than delivering of basic principles and values that the European Union has like promoting democracy, promoting social inclusion, jobs etc. The problem in many those countries has been that the European Union along with Morocco and other governments have essentially supported the dictators’ regimes, the funding they provided has helped to maintain Mubarak in Egypt, and Ben Ali in Tunisia, and Gaddafi in Libya. At the same time with the promotion of economic growth, that economic growth in such countries like Egypt hasn’t been felt by the majority of people. So they responded in the end, by feeling more and more impoverished, and they said it is enough and they don’t want it anymore.
It’s quite understandable. But do you think that the reforms of the mechanisms of rendering such assistance could imply developing some kind of a model that would help control the use of the money? Do you think it is realistic if we talk about those countries?
I think that part of the problems has been the ability of the countries to develop with inclusion: in other words, political inclusion with more democracy, or economic inclusion with more jobs, or social inclusion by ensuring social protection, a social welfare system. For this to become a reality you need to change the policy not just towards the aid to these countries, but also towards the way in which the global policy develops. Implementing policies which provide spending on health and education, for instance, and in which you have to pay people, has been constrained by international policies. So you have to change the whole approach to development.
I was also told that some EU members are still resisting the reforms to that program, and I was told that there was a group of members known as “Club net”. What is that?
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