Several of you have sent us questions on why the EU “should be sending aid to countries outside Europe” whilst public services are suffering such severe cuts at home. Albert, for example, wrote simply: “Finland cannot solve the world’s problems. Sorry.”

In order to get a response to these arguments, we interviewed Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden’s former Minister for International Development Cooperation, and put some of your comments to her for a reaction. How would she react to such comments from, for example, Catherine and Albert?

I would tell Catherine and Albert that, first of all, there is no doubt that the European Union has been experiencing a severe crisis due to the over-indebtedness of some of its member states, and there is therefore a need for reforms to bring about greater competitiveness. Simultaneously, there is also a need for growth and more jobs, particularly for young people. This is of great concern, and the EU already has a lot of support packages for those countries that are in trouble. So, indebted countries have to do their homework, with internal reforms (just as Sweden went through  such reforms), whilst also having sufficient support and solidarity from us.

However, I think it’s also important for Europe and its citizens to understand that we cannot just isolate ourselves from problems happening in other parts of the world. Political oppression and resource scarcity, severe droughts, famine, war and conflict happen really in our own neighbourhood, in the Middle East and Africa, and this has an impact on Europe. Long-term support is needed to help these countries overcome poverty in all its dimensions, but it’s also in our own interests that these countries are growing in prosperity and stability.

What about the argument from Joerg, who thinks that, whilst Europe might have a “historic responsibility” to support the development of other countries, “we could discuss which countries really need our help (e. g. I think China does really not need aid anymore).

I think the discussion that Joerg is calling for is already happening. The question is: where can European development assistance provide the most added value? I’ve been arguing from a Swedish point of view, very clearly, that we now need to target our development assistance much more clearly at conflict or post-conflict situations where there is no state to support people. So, I really welcome this debate and this kind of question.

For some commenters, the rise of the BRIC countries demonstrates that the most effective way to develop is to encourage more international trade. However, not all of our commenters were so enthusiastic about this prospect. Vicente, for example, asked: “Why should we be opening our markets to developing countries? When this policy is putting our young people out of a job? 50% youth unemployment in Spain, 38% in Portugal, and an average in Europe of 30% youth unemployment?

It’s an important question because, as I mentioned in my earlier response to Catherine and Albert, it is a misunderstanding that we can somehow survive better in the world on our own. Recovery in the world economy, and growth and prosperity in Europe, can be achieved through people trading, interacting and working together and through greater mobility between and within regions. This interaction promotes competition, innovation and investment.

It is important, therefore, to encourage these kinds of essential exchanges between countries. That’s why I think global free trade is a really positive tool to help ourselves as well as others. The number of jobs in the world in not a contant, because there will be new jobs coming up as the world economy grows. This could help Europe come out of the crisis stronger than before.

What do YOU think? Should Europe try to isolate itself globally, both by trading less with developing countries but also by engaging less in overseas development aid? Should we focus first on our own problems before we try to help other people? Or is the world so interdependent now that it would be impossible to cut ourselves off? And is it in our own interests to ensure a stable and prosperous developing world? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

103 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Cem Ozan

    it is european values and democrat?c principles to give aid..aint it?

  2. avatar
    Theodoros N Pitikaris

    Should europe protect Human Rights as is the fundmantal principle of EU? Of course yes! Thus Europe is obliged, as tribute to the Fathers of Europe, to make sure that not children workforce , or slavery workforce or underpaid workforce will ever again be seen in EU markets as products from states like Vietnam, China, India

    Is our duty to take all the appropriate anti-dumping measure for the shake of humanitarianism

    04/09/2013 David Martin, MEP, has responded to this comment.

  3. avatar
    Theodoros Pitikaris

    Should Europe protect Human Rights as is the fundamental principle of EU? Of course yes! Thus Europe is obliged, as tribute to the Fathers of Europe, to make sure that not children workforce , or slavery workforce or underpaid workforce will ever again be seen in EU markets as products from states like Vietnam, China, India

    Is our duty to take all the appropriate anti-dumping measure for the shake of humanitarianism

    • avatar

      The idea that the EU is some kind of “global police” flying international spaces in search of human rights offender is a flawed one and it’s costing the EU and the developing world a lot of opportunities for growth. In some sense, the developing world is like some boy a girl falls in love with, but about whom she’s reluctant in dating due to his lack of manner and long list of problems and suddenly another not so attractive girl comes up marries the guy and our nice girl spends the rest of her life pointing fingers at this unscrupulous girl who dared to take her boy. The girl is the EU, the boy is the developing world, and the “unscrupulous girl” is China.
      Forget about the notion of the EU being the boss and the rest of the non-western world it’s loyal subject.
      Jump in and take part of the cake and develop the “values” from within once there’s a chance to make any meaningful changes!

    • avatar
      Theodoros N Pitikaris

      In that case the Fair Trade know-how may is a valuable resource that will allow Europe to pursuit both policies of open markets and European Fundamental Values Promotion.
      At the same time, the Fair Trade Framework may allow the core Services to remain in Europe and partially only to be outsourced in other places across the Globe.
      The main concern remains, the ability of Europe to regain some R&D capacity, the aging factor, a faster rate of integration with a strong democratic pillar that will suppress the power of not elected bodies.

      Another issue is the elimination of the sovereignty default issues, that cause sever confidence problems by questioning the ability of EU to remain a trustworthy viable player in the world market in a long-term period.

  4. avatar
    Natasha Naidoo

    europe can nt isolate itself, reason being trade is very important wereas developing countries provide most of the rawmaterials, though the country should try to look at better ways in improving its economy internaly. trade can nt be stopd.the country should concentrate on its problems. Devoloping countries rely on aid wich benefits them.

  5. avatar

    The “helping ourselves first” narrative is only good in sound. You can use in a public speech and see a sharp rise in support. It’s what people like to hear, but is it in Europe’s best interest? Not at all.
    The reason the EU exists in the first place is because together Europe can have an influence in the geopolitical scene which translates to more economic opportunities in the countries/regions in which it is capable of influencing politics. By isolating itself now the EU will miss on a lot of opportunities in the developing and emerging countries and once it comes out of its own exile it will face a world where all the pies have been divided by other stakeholders. In my opinion this shouldn’t even make a debate, it’s not divisive enough…. Anticipating other opinions.

    • avatar

      Europe and North America need to isolate itself globally for a period of time, to rebuild itself, recoup. For over 50 years they have poured trillions of dollars in aid. Paid in both dollars and lives to help with wars and illness, droughts, hunger, you name it, the list goes on. The current UN is a joke as most countries who comprise it ignore the rules and laws governing their membership.

      Rather than this increasing interdependency, it would benefit countries to learn to stand on their own. Poor nations must find their own way if they wish to have a better standard of living. It is in the interests of these countries to ensure they develop and become stable and prosperous.

      Think of all the aid money, food, medicine that has been stolen, sold on the black market to procure guns and other munitions for their petty wars. The billions siphoned of by leaders for their own gain. This help no one and perpetuates the wars.

      By now many of these countries should have their own schools and universities, yet the wealthy still send their children to the west to be educated. Why do it for yourself when Europe and the west are always there.

      In exchange for resources or trade, the western nations should build schools and provide western teachers and their curriculum. Provide birth control and education on planned parenthood. This must come with an understanding that the governments must comply with strict rules and guidelines regarding equality, democracy and a understanding of future trade and prosperity for their country. Baby steps. No country can just miraculously become a democratic socialized country, but more importantly, they can have no military. Any military aid needed will be provided by western nations until stability is maintained.

      It is achievable, but slowly. They must be taught, not bailed out. For those countries not willing to work in trade and con-operation, they can be left to figure it out on their own. Many African nations and its people have commented all ready that aid is not the answer and that they must be left to sort it out on their own. Why don’t we listen?

      Finally, there are many studies that show the intellectual development of Africans and even those in the Middle East are far below Westerners. This in itself can be part of the problem, and why proceeding in a slower more deliberate fashion can have a much better outcome in future generations. Education, education, education.

      Europe is in a perfect situation to see what problems they are facing in the refugees currently being taken in, and the problems each country is having with their education. This is not racism. The studies exist, as do the problems. Please be open minded in this as it benefits no one to shut your mind to hearing all the facts.

      Remember, European democracy and socialism wasn’t created overnight. Why expect Africa and the Middle East to somehow, miraculously figure it out by next year. It will take generations and allowing them to immigrate en masse when the going gets tough helps no one, except the liberal conscious.

  6. avatar
    Pedro Celestino

    Yes we should but…

    I don’t think the problem is worldwide trade, it is profit at any cost, we should be able to trade with any country as long as that country respect human rights and workers right. The world trade as it is today is a form of exploitation, of creating oversea slaves, there is countries that given the way they treat their citizens and and workers we shouldn’t have any trade with them. But we should try to help them anyway, mainly with education, info and culture, at least try to make that those persons have as much info as they can!

    • avatar

      The problem with human and worker’s right are as a result of the greed created by the 1%. They want everything cheaper for more profits for themselves and stockholders. Capitalism at its worst and ugliest.

  7. avatar
    Cristian Dinescu

    those unable to help themselves think at helping others, exploiting developing countries is not the solution but the problem.

  8. avatar

    Putting the righteous rose tinted glasses of international development to one side for one moment we should remember that there is a strong economic case for promoting international development. It benefits our countries, a bit like trickle down economics is supposed to (I feel ‘trickle down’ can be said to apply when talking about countries but not so when looking at individuals).

    The notion that we could some how cut ourselves off from the world is merely inviting disaster. Aid budgets are a very powerful tool, a form of soft power. When you combine all EU countries aid budgets the EU area donates the most in the world, this is not an accident. When dealing with developing nations aid is important, it allows us to impose conditionality on corrupt regimes. Personally I don’t have a problem with us attaching strings to our money, whilst I’m not completely cynical I realise that good ol’ Christian charity is far from the only motivation behind aid.

    There will always be discussions about where best to direct funds, what conditions should be attached, how to spend the money, whether to fund social development or economic development, should aid go to the state or to ngo’s and should we be giving money to China and India at all while they’re busy firing rockets at (one day to) the moon with varying degrees of success. (India coincidentally has more malnourished people in it that Africa so it’s not a black and white issue).

    On a personal and less rational note, of course we should be bloody donating money to the developing world, if we’re having a hard economic time of it how do you think they’re faring? I’m very proud of the UK’s commitment to a real terms increase in the aid budget despite the economic down turn and I hope the rest of the western world does the same.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ignorant jack:

      My, my, my. What a farcical pretence at an altruistic and really ignorant post that was.

      You may be happy that your money is being used by despots to buy themselves private jets and enable their wives to shop until they drop in the streets of Paris but I despise it. You should donate your entire income if you feel so strongly about it, But leave mine to be used by Europeans.

      We have people, including children, right here in Europe who need food, housing and jobs, but you want to send our tax payers funds to the biggest hypocracy we have been sold since the Roman Emperors stormed our homelands. You are a traitor to your fellow man and deserve ridicule.

      What you are saying is, you prefer our hard earned money to be spent recklessly whilst our people die of starvation. You should pack your bags and get thee to a nunnery fast. People like you make me feel physically sick.

      This tells you how much the US is donating as bribe money to court despots to let them into their resource fileds whilst they swallow their tax payers money. Our funds are equal to the US aid and we the European tax payers are paying whilst our own go hungry and our children starvve. It is not easy to get the info on this little game and to where and to whom it goes.

      The utter insult to tell starving Europeans they are not as deserving as those who have been in receipt of billions of our generosity taxes for half a century at least, without any perceptable difference to the lives of those in receipt and no change in their attitude to responsibility for their own people either. Europeans should refuse to pay up unless the money goes where it belongs, to the starvng poor who live on our own continent.

      Once thriving countries like Zimbabwe have been brought to ruin and the next not far behind it will be Sourth Africa. Lets pretend that isn’t happening for its too high an expectation to have for those who cannot fend for themselves isn’t it?

      Why is it our governments never want to address the real issues in these places whilst they defend their policies on the hunger of the European people. It is a disgrace and a fraud of the worst kind.

    • avatar
      Debating Europe


      We want to encourage healthy debate on the platform, but please focus on the arguments themselves and not the people making them (i.e. refrain from calling your fellow commenters “ignorant” or “traitors”).

    • avatar

      Catherine, you’ve clearly got no idea what you’re talking about your consistently self righteous and contemptuous over inflated opinion is getting tiring.

      I’d be interested to know if you actually lift a finger when it comes to helping your fellow man, who you claim I betray. You should be ashamed about making such disgusting comments about anyone, let alone anyone you don’t know.

      You call me ignorant, I could easily make the same claim about you and your, in my opinion, naive views. I’m far from ignorant, I know how the system works. It’s not perfect but that is life and sometimes we have to take the long view. If some aid doesn’t make it to the intended beneficiaries does that mean we should donate aid at all? That doesn’t make a difference to dictators but it does hurt the poor and desperate (and as I alluded to one solution to this is direct aid to ngo’s). And yes, I’m quite happy to say that people living on less than a dollar a day, drinking dirty water and living under an extractive regime are more deserving than Europeans. There is a massive difference between not being able to afford the food you used to and it simply not being available. Get real.

      Your seemingly selfish (or perhaps just exceptionalist) attitude doesn’t help the situation, people with your views are more concerned with their own wellbeing in their own little social security bubble in Europe than they are with the rest of the world.

      Whereas you’ve stated we should just selfishly focus on Europe I argued for foreign aid. The main thrust of my argument tried to come from a (fairly cold) economic point of view, however if you actually read my comment you’ll note that my personal motivation comes from a less ‘rational’ position. No where in my comment did I support funding dictators private jets or say we shouldn’t aid our own citizens or fellow Europeans either, I would consider UK aid sent to certain EU countries to be international development aid well spent.

      Quite clearly you’re the sort of person to get quite angry and self righteous, and in your faux-anger you’ve attributed things to me that really make you (and me) angry, you lost sight of the argument and you really should consider apologising.

      I don’t like to bang on but your vitriolic and ill involved comments I think make it fair. The reason I don’t think I’m a “traitor to my fellow man” is that I’m a volunteer development worker in India, I’ve not been home for getting on to a year now, I’ve missed funerals, birthdays and Christmas whilst working 6-day weeks. I think what I’m doing is well worth it and when I come home in a few months I’m planning on working for an NGO that helps people in the UK.

      Nice try Catherine, but calm down.

    • avatar
      Debating Europe


      You might not have had a chance to read the comment we made to Catherine’s post, but please stick to the arguments themselves and don’t engage with any arguments against specific individuals (even if you are on the receiving end). We want to avoid flame wars, and as Catherine has been warned, there is no reason to return to this particular argument now.

      We will keep the debate open, but any further off-topic posts will be removed by moderators.

  9. avatar
    Georgi Hrisstof

    Complicated things always have several correct answers!
    Isolation is a word that is not a dictionary Europe!
    Benefits they value and message!
    European civilization … has evolved, however, and while .. and triumphantly illogical .. painful and reasonable!
    No doubt in leadership and role in the peaceful economic balance and order.
    No doubt difficulties have to be overcome.
    No doubt the success!
    I would not be allowed again “sacrificial lamb” of global weakness …!

  10. avatar
    Juan Vázquez García

    Some European countries, Euro members all of them, are still facing extreme difficulties. Their economies continue to dwindle and poverty is on the rise in those countries. How can Europe help others if it can’t even help itself? The ideal thing would be to help others, but if it CAN’T BE DONE, then IT CAN’T BE DONE! You’re not going to bleed European citizens to death in taxes just to be able to take care of the rest of the world. This way of thinking will make everybody poorer. And the money never reaches the people who truly need it anyway. It just goes to the corrupt governments of those countries.

  11. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    The best way for Europe to help developing countries is to NOT give money to them. But expertise, assistance to develop their own abilities and exploit their own resources, advice and shared knowledge. What Europe does though is keep offering them money. Money often is being misused and it creates a dependency. It helps establish a corrupt elite that misuses the aid money portraying the limited success as their own to perpetuate their rule in the country.

    Trust me, I am from Greece I know.. It happened over there during some of the most troublesome decades in our and Europe’s history and now we see the results.

    A poor country does not need money to become rich or at least wealthier, if that is what we want in reality in Europe and not a new type of dependency for these countries. A new type of colonization and exploitation.

    A poor country needs direct investments, jobs, factories, education so it can stand on its own feet and start exploiting all the best that it has and investing then in innovation with its own money. So all that Europe could do is set up companies that will promote the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, schools, factories – but not sweat shops to exploit the local population with cheaper salaries for the continent’s rich elite.

    But Europe before it decides to offer help and invest in one nation it demands certain obligations. Help does not come without price. They want to establish an ever pro-Western regime and transform their “aid” into an investment. And investments usually mean a return in profits.. And that is where the problem lies.

    By being so selfish and offer help but with many strings attached, they are in some cases do more harm than good. They sink nations into deep debt and by establishing a pro-Western elite to make sure they are going to get the return of their investment they were counting for, they actually promote corruption and injustice in this country.

    I am all for European aid and help to any country in need, as of course many above have stated that this is what must Europe stand for for the future: human betterment, across the continent and beyond. But only if this help comes with a totally selfless attitude and instead of looking down on those “poor” “Third World” nations, actually trying to inspire them to be as proud and confident that they can achieve greatness and be a invaluable member of the global community. Amen!

    • avatar

      I agree to an extent Christos, you make a good argument, direct foreign investment and economic prosperity have a roll to play but so does aid. As far as expertise etc it really isn’t required to the extent that the development community used to believe it was (perhaps a natural imperial hangover of the white man helping the black man mentality?).

      The best people to help lead development in developing countries are the people of those countries, they’ve go far more knowledge of the situation on the ground and are more able to engage with communities or at least have an understanding of the problems a project can face. The expertise, to a large extent, is there and where it isn’t it makes more sense in the long term to teach the necessary expertise than it is for a foreigner to gain the experience of a country gained by a lifetime spent living in a country. What they don’t have is the money.

      Projects do require funding whether it’s a micro-finance scheme or an education programme and this is where aid really needs to be focused. You are right to worry about corruption but in circumstances where the the government can’t be trusted with foreign aid then we should give aid directly to NGO’s (large NGO’s like Save the Children can easily be given cash to divide it amongst reliable local NGO’s). Corruption is a problem but perhaps not as bad as people think, donor countries are frequently very demanding when it comes to keeping tabs on where their money is going. When corruption very clearly exists amongst governments it’s usually easier and safer to pocket funds/bribes from the country and private industries than to risk aid.

      When aid does (and it does, I’m not denying that) go awry donor countries have been known to entirely pull the plug on government aid, this is unfortunate but then we should repurpose that aid and direct it to NGO’s in my opinion.

    • avatar

      “As far as expertise etc it really isn’t required to the extent that the development community used to believe it was (perhaps a natural imperial hangover of the white man helping the black man mentality?).”

      Oh dear! I meant that such a mentality came from the old development community not you!

    • avatar

      In agreement. I come from a 3rd world /developing country which was colonised by one of the European countries that left a poor education system that has resulted into lack of skills to make even a safety pin!
      One studies history of the world without knowing what happened home. All text books are written in a foreign language right from pre primary to University without working leaving no room for anybody to reason in their local languages and it becomes “disgusting” when someone makes a mistake while speaking in a foreign language!
      Way forward: European Union should help people in developing countries to acquire technical skills right from the lower levels because there are so may minerals in developing countries that can turn into money when worked on.Fund programs on peaceful patriotic activities, SAY NO to gun diplomacy that rules in the 3rd world countries, send all professionals who have trained in EU back to their developing countries of origin and advise them to put in practice the good governance, hygiene, innovation, integrity/accountability among other things that make EU developed. I believe the famous name 3rd WORLD will seize to be heard if the EU helped the countries in that world to work with practical overall independence other than giving them donations to an extent of even funding the national budgets! EU members should know that our education system in the 3rd world countries still runs as pre- designed by colonialists way back in the 19th century.
      WE NEED PRACTICAL SKILLS TO MAKE MONEY so that one day EU members can reliably come to national banks in the would 3rd world to borrow money to simplify their difficulties. That should the vision in line with developing a prosperous world in my opinion.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      On this christos i dsagree with your analysis.

      The corporate world, who are our present rulers, do not want a partly prosperous world at all. They want world poverty in the extreme. They make money from the poor and exploited not from the well healed. Rich are out of reach and are, in the main, their own men. One way or the other, the people who are doing well are on some corporate payroll.

      Slavery is a money earner and it keeps the population needy. When you are needy you become easy to manipulate and induce a debt level that keeps you vulnerable.

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      Ok Catherine… I get your point…. And that is why I have always supported a more united Europe and in extention World… But truly united with a redistribution of wealth and opportunities…

      In Greece we have been on a payroll of Europe ever since we joined.. Nobody talked to us about “European values” unity, solidarity and such.. There was always the “Dellors packet” the other packer from Europe to be accepted, more and more money.. Nothing about our rights as EU citizens, and equal Europeans…

      And the situation remains so 30 years later… Will Europe give us the next “packet” of “aid”? Will Merkel and Schauble have mercy on us?

      Give a poor man a fish and he will eat for a day.. Teach him how to fish and he will always have plenty to eat.. Someone once said.. We need factories, investments and jobs in Greece and all those places that Europe wants to give “aid”… Not bucket loads of money…. The result is what you see in Greece, Africa and many other places…

      If you want to create a united Europe, make it really equal and united, not have a different “unity” for the Beneluxiotes and the Francogermans and different for the “peripheral” economies…

      Greece has been always treated as a territory as a protectorate of Europe.. We were always been doing what Europe told us to do.. But somehow we still get smeared for being “disobedient” … Die betrueger in die familie my arse!!

  12. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    Well, this is in many phases.
    The first part, forgive me, is incorrect.disaster relief /aid can enjoy up to 50%, even, i’d say the state’s support development aid shld be entirely voluntary.
    as i’ve said, best where goods and services dnt cross boundaries armies will (the Bastiat quote :p )
    indeed, best diplomacy business. And :) business :p is better than fighting.
    Pedro hits it right on the head. :p Trade ? I believe in trade not aid, extending a hand rather than
    handouts. Aid is giving money away. The old saying comes to mind
    ? give a man a fish he’ll have food for a day but, teach him to fish
    and he will have food for a lifetime. Of course it’s good to think about
    your peers. That?s humane. That is why free trade agreements are
    good nevertheless if mutually beneficial.
    I can see how protectionism plays an important role. If there is
    an industry the country needs for its survival to avoid unfair
    subsidization slap tariffs on incoming products of the same sort.
    Free and fair trade.

  13. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    Juan. :)
    Word. how we can’t help others until ,and before :) we help ourselves. you have heard of the rescuers needing helping? Well, this is what the situation is now even our own doing.
    Taxes -..exactly why it shld be voluntary. Remember, disasters are smthg else.

    Chk out Ron Paul :p Aid is taking money from the poor in rich countries and giving it to rich ppl in poor countries. :)

  14. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    If you look at globalization, competition, yes. Competition
    pushes the prices down, gives the consumer more choice, more to
    choose from. There are those who say that, while creating jobs in the
    host country, it would still bring in revenue to the parent country and
    that would amount to fraud. Globalization has made the world more
    prosperous however, intertwined with trade, I see the source of their
    concerns. National interest. This is at the heart of the WTO
    demonstrations and protest and also, more recently, the conflict
    surrounding NAFTA.
    To continue from my bk, symbolism :

    I would much rather travel, see the country and go there to get
    whatever I want than attempt to/engage in making the same product,
    (and) a cheap copy, at home. This also goes against the notion of
    trade, what our whole world economy is built on.

  15. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    Christos is right ..
    have a look also at Ron’s son, Rand. You destroy your currency by spending money you dont have.

  16. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    As you know China figured out a quantity problem in production, of course for only goods, not services. The necessity of World is the quality in every branch of production. ?t contains the up subjects of Piticaris also. Europe should isolate itself only for the that purpose, because it will be realised by only Europe in the World in this Century.While the pyramids build even in old Egypt, barbarism was.Europe should deepen to chase to the Civilization and the values of Enlightenment, if the rest of World allows.

  17. avatar

    I’ve seen free trade mentioned several times as being the key to development and that aid just creates dependency, and at a national level this may be true. However an absolute silver bullet solution it is not. The key assumption that is still being made by many policy makers and economists is the belief in trickle down economics. This belief is being slowly debunked amongst the development community around the world. The economic growth of a country does not guarantee development for everyone, people are left behind, and those that are become trapped in a very aggressive and distressing cycle of poverty. The myth of the burgeoning middle class in countries like China and India gets a lot of publicity but they are a tiny minority.

    The fact is that you cannot have one without the other, a complementary aid programme that supports local economic development in terms of providing the educated and healthy people required to push forward an entrepreneurial economy. Remember sometimes (particularly in Africa) a countries economic improvement can mask the poverty of it’s people, especially where much of the wealth created is because of outside foreign investment that creates few jobs for locals.

  18. avatar
    Limbidis Adrian

    While i agree that helping developing countries is a noble thing to do, the EU should tidy up its own backyard first.
    We got problems of our own. Right now we’re the poorman who is throwing money at other poorer men in hope of seeming rich and noble.

    Stop this pointless wars and fundings.
    Let the US go fight its own damned wars. What the hell are we doing in Lybia? And now there’s this talk of Syria?
    What the hell?

    Also Turkey is looking to join the EU but kisses the US’s ass at every turn? Hardly a trustworthy member, i say.

    • avatar

      I don’t think it’s impossible to do both, as a combined area we’re still the richest part of the world by a long margin. Should countries under real strain revised their aid downwards? Sure. But this doesn’t have to be the case everywhere and if a real terms freeze or even increase can be managed then we should try and do so. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, there can be tangible economic benefits for us in the long run, so we shouldn’t just view aid simply as money down the drain.

      As for the wars, and at dangerous risk of going off topic, we intervened in Libya to stop a massacre, and if we hadn’t stopped them before Benghazi there could well have been many other Benghazi’s across the country. It’s easy to criticise with the benefit of hindsight and I understand the frustrations, but it could have potentially been a lot worse. As for Syria I wouldn’t worry, according to Jane’s most European countries haven’t built up their ammunition stocks back up to even pre-Libya levels and we would need a lot more to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria, their air defense system is vastly superior (given it’s proximity to Israel) and Russia has supplied them with state of the art kit and has its own personnel on the ground making the situation even more complicated (imagine what the killing of Russian military personne would do to NATO-Russian relations). Now couple all that with the US reluctance to take the lead and I doubt we’ll see anything, unless Assad decides to launch chemical weapons.

      (Note: I won’t reply to anything about the wars to avid getting too off topic, but I’ll read your response)

      Oh, we should let Turkey in, their economy is doing okay, they have a youthful population and a largely secular civil/political society. The last thing we want is for the EU to be an exclusive Christian only club after all, bring them in and help us build a bridge with the Islamic world. They could be a great benefit for helping us engage with the Middle-East and in promoting EU funded development there.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @Ignorant Jack:

      You strike me as a schill on behalf of the people who make big money from high salaries selling the AID game, as you repeatedly pretend it goes to the poor and needy in the, so called, developing world. That line is old hat and the lie has been tumbled, so you need to shift it elswhere.

      How long will this deliberate poverty be continually referred to as a ‘developing world’? can you answer that one? And once they are ‘developed’ will those, once poor countries, be paying back the billions in European tax payers money they have received for decades, so that we too can develop a market for our European men and women who are unemployed and in dire need of benefit to live?

      Can you please explain why you feel the European people, who are on the same starvation level of some of the developing world, are conisidered second class citizens in your mind to those whom you wish to shower with our money?

      You are clearly a pusher of politically correct bull. And that, from my point of view, is the mindset of a traitor to those who pay your bill.

      African despots, Indian maharajahs, leaders of Egpt, Syria, Libya and all the others who get billions of our money on a annual basis do not deserve our largesse for the buying of private jets planes, wives to shop endlessly for diamonds and any other freaky baubles they must have at our expense.

      Europeans are unemployed, Europeans are suffering austerity in the extreme and it is not going to end for many years, yet you care about those elsewhere. You are a clown Sir. Take emoluments and donate them to whomever you wish to assistand leave our tax payers money to be spent where it is needed within our own hard working peoples boarders.

      And stop pretending you are an ordinary citizen coming here to spread your message of altruism to the world. Clearly that is a con.

    • avatar

      Keep your personal insults to yourself.

      Firstly lets look at your comments about what you referred to as the ‘aid game’. If you knew anything about the development sector you’d know the vast majority of workers here are volunteers from local communities. Those who actually get paid are, again, widely local workers and thus working at, typically, below local rates because donors are always squeezing organisations to reduce back office costs (a counter productive process that drives away talent). The top level people are, just like any other sector, decently paid but, as you would know if you follow the development sector, donors are now demanding reduced numbers of consultants and the field is starting to experience somewhat of over due cull. To call aid some sort of con demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of the sector. No one does it to get rich.

      “Can you please explain why you feel the European people, who are on the same starvation level of some of the developing world”

      Your assertions that people are starving to death in Europe to any thing like the same extent as people are in the developing world are just baseless and a flat out lie. The hyperbole of your comments about the suffering of Europeans would be laughable if it weren’t so hideously offensive. As far as I can tell they seem to be motivated by the same desires as right wing nationalists. The fact that you’re comparing the troubles of Europeans (loss of a jobs, pension wealth or health benefit perks) to the suffering of people in the developing world is pretty sickening. Now Europeans difficulties are heart breaking in their own way but I simply can’t fathom how you can even think about comparing the two.

      “African despots, Indian maharajahs, leaders of Egpt, Syria, Libya and all the others who get billions of our money on a annual basis do not deserve our largesse for the buying of private jets planes, wives to shop endlessly for diamonds and any other freaky baubles they must have at our expense.”

      The above statement is pretty much garbage and ignores the multiple ways of funding aid projects, such as by-passing governments and funding NGO’s directly. This statement assumes that aid can only be given to governments, this is factually inaccurate. Most experts agree that NGO’s are better placed to provide services than many governments in any case, and I agree with this. Corruption happens, but not to the extent your making up, and when it has been funded by aid money that money is cut off (just look at the DfID website). Also, corruption happens in Europe.

      Whereas I’ve stated that I’m not against aid going to Europeans you are apparently quite happy to completely cut off people who’ve historically suffered at our hands both physically and economically for hundreds of years. Leaving aside the economic argument which according to your comment makes me some sort of “schill” for big money (a daft argument since I’m advocating aid). Don’t you think we even have one modicum of responsibility?

      “leave our tax payers money to be spent where it is needed within our own hard working peoples boarders”

      This argument seems to suggest that people in the developing world don’t work hard, it is a complete fallacy and the idea that aid is some kind of hand out to the lazy is a lie born of a post imperialist mentality. Interestingly I could’ve easily taken the above quote from any UKIP or other right wing website. That made me laugh given your wild assertions about me.

      “You are clearly a pusher of politically correct bull. And that, from my point of view, is the mindset of a traitor to those who pay your bill.”

      I just know what I’m talking about. And nobody ‘pays my bill’. I pay my bill. Yet another misplaced assumption, one among many.

      Your crazy statements are dragging you to the bottom of the moral low ground faster and faster and the personal attacks on me are just comical.

  19. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Yes, the EU should isolate itself from the rest of the world, so the rest of the world won`t be contaminated by EU madness! :)

  20. avatar
    George Papadimitriou

    First of, europe is already issolated from the rest of its neighbours as well as the rest of the world. That is a given fact and it started just as soon as Merkel took over. The only way of affecting the rest of the world is via its messed up economy. It is trully pathetic for europe while being located in such a geopolitically important part of the world to play absolutely no role in the middle east, asia, etc, etc. As far as the developing countries are concerned, I believe it is about time to tell the truth. Regardless of how often we decide to trade or not with the so called developing countries, the poor people of these countries have been sentenced to death by all of us in the “developed” world, and I explain myself. When we talk politics and governmental decision making, every action in ALL developed countries is taken with the concept of “securing energy resources” in mind. Always. Now, we are used to having two mobile phones, two cars, a huge fridge, lighting, very warm houses throughout winter, etc etc. In other words, the developed world consumes nearly all of currently available planet’s energy resources…If Africa starts living like we do, then we will run out of energy probably by the end of the week. And this is simply discusting but…true. I wonder why Africa remains developing since…well, forever…Bottom line is, if we want to help we must learn to live with less. A lot less. And our governments know that we are not ready to do such a thing and that is why they act as they do. ENERGY. The magic world…

    • avatar

      Countries do move from developing to developed. Former Warsaw Pact countries, some South American countries and of course the so-called ‘Asian Tigers’ are increasingly making the move. But far more countries can be said to be in the intermediate phase and it’s very difficult to judge for example do you go by MDG’s met, economic indicators, strength of civil society etc. Unfortunately ‘developed and developing’ is a messy term. And it’s true that countries weren’t ‘developing’ until we told them they were (philanthropists and academics of the ’50s and ’60s trying to make sense of the post imperial era), populations had no idea they were ‘poor’. So in that sense it’s an artificial construct, because we were going out of our way to draw comparisons between different countries, populations and even select demographics. However, the world is constantly getting smaller, and it’s getting easier and easier for the have-not’s to see how much they actually haven’t got. In this situation you’ll find people drawing their own comparisons, sometimes based on old development theory, sometimes just on the diatribe of advertising constantly forced down our throats.

      Energy independence is something I think Europe really needs, but my idea of energy independence is a lot different to the American idea. When I say it, I mean go green and go renewable, not just simply procuring other sources of fossil fuels from more tractable governments. Though realistically there will have to be some kind of green/fossil over lap for a decade or so at least. If we could get away from this dependence then perhaps we might be able to deal with the developing world more fairly, which I think is what your driving at?

      “It is trully pathetic for europe while being located in such a geopolitically important part of the world to play absolutely no role in the middle east, asia, etc, etc.”
      If we more than just a collection of squabbling governments having a more central role in the world would be more attainable. And as a side note, the EU (when combining the EU and all national aid budgets) donates more aid than anywhere else, I don’t think we should under estimate this.

      Good post all in all :)

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      The magic word here on this subject has to be referendum.

      Be open and honest by asking the 500 million people of this united Europe, how they feel about handing their taxes over disproportionately to countries where it is, in the main, hardly used for purpose. And put it to them that people, including children, here in Europe are likewise suffering without food, warmth and health care, similar to that in the developing world. And ask them straight out where they would like their money spent.

      That way you end the need for vested interests, who benefit from this concept personally, from using this forum, or any other, as a method to plug their product the way it is being used here. Lobbyst make money for themselves plugging political money spinners and selling it to the public by emotional black mail. They never give an opposing view and destest anyone who tries to do so.

      Balance and straight thinking is the last push vested interests want you to hear. If you think about it, direct democracy works. Try it and see.

    • avatar

      “And ask them straight out where they would like their money spent.”
      I think most people are reasonable and can differentiate between the people of Greece and the people of Somalia. It doesn’t have to be either or, empathy knows no boundaries, not least arbitrary geographic one’s of ‘this is Europe and this is not’.

      Who or what are these dark mysterious vested interests you refer too? Is it preferable that everyone in the development sector works for free, lives in a mud hut and lives off the land and the promise of a good meal? (sounds very effective!) Is there a fundamental difference between an organisation that raises funds for use inside of Europe as opposed to outside of it?

      If we had this referendum you propose I think you would find that everyone would vote to reduce overall aid and want the majority of it spent on their own country, there would be no ‘pan-European’ solidarity movement I’m afraid. Far better to make the case for aid in general to go where ever it’s needed than to let people cherrypick.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ignorant J:

      You wrote frankly that you are involved in this kind of movement on the ground. So, not coming from an outside viewpoint. And it doesn’t matter how you look at that fact it means you have a vested interest in the outcome of Foreign Aid increases. As a result, my view is that you have misplaced sense of altruism. Father Christmas is, after all, a myth, or, fairy story.

      Charity begins at home.

  21. avatar
    Ana Taveira


  22. avatar
    Nico Keppens

    As somebody already said: it is not an easy topic… Two things should not be forgotten: 1) in Europe (and what is called the West) most people still have access to better living standards that about 2/3 (or even more) in the rest of the world and normally we should still have the means to help ‘here and there’; 2) whether you like it or not: we don’t have all the natural resources and depend therefore on what is available elsewhere. Isn’t it then fair that we exchange our wealth and knowledge to help them to improve their living conditions?
    Perhaps the biggest problem is: to what point does this aid (here and there) have to go? Until everybody in the world can afford a colour tv, a house with a swimming pool? By this I mean that apparently within a society there will always be people ‘better of’ than others in order – to say it bluntly – to have people willing to clean the streets. But this does not take away our responsibility to at least provide to all living on this world the minimal conditions to live decently, with a roof to live on, medical care, enough food, education to create possibilities, and this in a world that will still be liveable for our grand grand grand … children.

  23. avatar
    Silvia Bidart

    I’m involved in International Cooperation R&D and innovation activities, and have seen that benefits are good for both, EU and developing countries. EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative will run from 2014 till 2020. This new programme for research and innovation aims to create new growth and jobs in Europe, as well as securing Europe’s global competitiveness. It is clear that it will not solve every problem, but will contribute in some way, under a perspective of mutual benefits. Mechanisms or instruments like this are worthy to try. Sometimes it is better “to give a fishing rod than a fish”.

  24. avatar
    catherine benning

    @ Moderator:

    Would you be kind enough to let me know why my post of January 11, 7.29 pm on this thread and in response to ignorant jack is still waiting for moderation?

    With thanks,

    Catherine Benning

    • avatar
      Matin islam Najmul

      My involved in the my village of the most important thing poor people who have achieved anything and helps money. poor people please help money

  25. avatar
    Sengheng Sea

    Sometimes, when we try to see others’ trouble, we could explore the troubles of ourselves that we never know we had.

  26. avatar

    It is not a good idea give poor o developing countries handout but rather teach them to stand on their own because once the providing country becomes weaker economically, countries that rely on that country become sick automatical.

  27. avatar

    I’m from Egypt and reject violence and terrorism and support the Army and the People’s Revolution

  28. avatar

    Here are my thoughts on EU aid to developing countries:

    1) All Europeans should be able to vote on the money given to developing countries. Currently the EU is acting like a tyrant by insisting that Europeans pay taxes which go away from Europe and to developing countries making Europeans poorer. This causes much resentment from Europeans toward the EU for acting like a reckless Robin Hood.

    2) If they EU gives any development money, it should only be under strict conditions. Africa has a huge overpopulation problem and Europe needs to insist on a two child policy otherwise no aid.

    3) For the past 50 years, Europe has given money away for free to Africa without any expectation of repayment. This is certainly quite stupid and makes no sense. Europe should imitate the Chinese model and help develop the country under the condition that Europe can use Africa’s natural resources.

    • avatar
      P Walsh

      @ smartness

      Be careful that sounds a little too close to commonsense,
      and eurocrats have a phobia of commonsense.

  29. avatar

    Why is any developed country still giving money to India? They have faster growing economies than Western countries and have recently launched a spacecraft to Mars. Does a country which has a space program really need development help? When is this craziness going to end? And why are they exempt from dealing with their own problems as the West deals with their own problems?

  30. avatar
    P Walsh

    I think the wording of the question is disgusting (suggesting that if we don’t give all this money away then we are just being isolationist) and proves that your not willing to change anything

  31. avatar
    P Walsh

    @ IgnoRantJack

    your name fits you perfectly

  32. avatar
    P Walsh

    @ Lumala

    Until you start taking responsibility for your own lives/countries and stop blaming events that happened a century or more ago, you will never prosper.

    • avatar

      you know, european countries could help those developing countries in technical aid. In this way, three world will not over-dependent on european countries’ finaincial aids and they could gradully rely on themsleves.

  33. avatar
    Al Beirão

    Yes, europe helped greece to develop a never ending problem. Congratulations, Europe!

  34. avatar
    Georgi Tashev

    “Helping” other countries when is not solved the problems of Euro citizens is negligence and betray them
    Europe itself violates the laws once overlooked members of the union and spends money on things outside the Union

  35. avatar
    Dan Florin

    Because Europe evolved in some domains and has the know how, thus helping others will save them precious time, let alone cooperation is far superior to unfair competition

  36. avatar
    Lamborghini P.

    Help the EU countries only.

  37. avatar
    Yana Prokofyeva

    Shame on you, people. 1 person out of 9 on this planet does not have enough to eat, and you are talking about “helping ourselves first”?

    According to statistics, the EU development aid costs 8 cents per European citizen a day. That’s about 29 euros per year from each of us. Is this really too much to help a child go to primary school, get them some food or provide safer conditions for a women to give birth?..

  38. avatar
    Adam Zábranský

    We should help others outside EU, of course. It is in interest of EU citizens that the whole world is prosperous, not just us, and that people are not dying that much.

  39. avatar
    Maja Fenyvesi

    First i help my children my mother… My family. Then I look around to see if i can help others.

  40. avatar
    Richard Osborne

    I’d like to know what oversight we have to ensure that the aid goes to the people that need it and not into corrupt politicians pockets

  41. avatar
    Joey Stack

    It is the responsibility of a national
    Government, and a devolved local government, to look after its own citizens before anything else; they’re are homeless people going without food, shelter and Medical care on the streets of Britain and our government is putting ILLEGAL immigrants up in hotels, at the the taxpayers expense; the only way we can control our own borders so we can decide what to do with these people in a way that would suit the needs of our own people first, is to leave this over beauracratic, unelected, unaccountable mess and govern ourselves properly, enabling our own people to be properly looked after finally

  42. avatar
    Joao Vaz

    Others problems are also OUR problems. Think globally. I agree with EU politics towards more support for development outside our own borders (EU).

  43. avatar
    Gerry Gallagher

    You should always help others…..human nature but there will always be those who won’t which is a personal choice.

  44. avatar
    Fabrice Youmssi

    EU help is always about profit. They are saying that they help undeveloped countries but their reel mission is to steal and use raw materials took from those undeveloped countries to build EU. Never EU will help undeveloped country for free Never. It’s just some reasons to steal and control raw materials which they don’t have in EU. So all ya stop thinking that they really help.

  45. avatar
    Hamid Daneshi

    EU should stop interfering in those countries affairs because such actions come with responsibility and not rights!?

  46. avatar
    Jaime Oliveira

    Because, in the end, we are all humans. “European” is just a label for someone who was fortunate enough to born in a place where opportunities (like good education and some prospects) do exist… so far…

  47. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    I agree that nations that are well off should help improve others, as long as those receiving help are investing it wisely and have legitimate governments. However, our home and our people must come first. I can’t justify sending an € out of the EU while Europeans are going hungry, while children are going hungry, while 100% of our basic needs are not met. I can stand it when a family from my country(and I can name a few) needs to ask for charity to get the medical care their child needs, care that will keep that child alive while my government is sending millions over seas for mosques in morocco, gay rights in guatemala, social centers in palestine etc. etc. etc. It is unacceptable.

  48. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    I agree that nations that are well off should help improve others, as long as those receiving help are investing it wisely and have legitimate governments. However, our home and our people must come first. I can’t justify sending an € out of the EU while Europeans are going hungry, while children are going hungry, while 100% of our basic needs are not met. I can stand it when a family from my country(and I can name a few) needs to ask for charity to get the medical care their child needs, care that will keep that child alive while my government is sending millions over seas for mosques in morocco, gay rights in guatemala, social centers in palestine etc. etc. etc. It is unacceptable.

  49. avatar
    Antonio Pinto Caldeira

    Haven’t you realised yet that other’s problems are also our problems?
    If Europe helps to stabilise and improve living conditions in other countries it reduces migrant pressure in Europe?
    Most people prefer to work in their own country close to their family than to go looking for work abroad.

  50. avatar
    Antonio Pinto Caldeira

    Haven’t you realised yet that other’s problems are also our problems?
    If Europe helps to stabilise and improve living conditions in other countries it reduces migrant pressure in Europe?
    Most people prefer to work in their own country close to their family than to go looking for work abroad.

  51. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    It is not an “either / or” problem. It is an “and” problem. But one has to be honest about the problems and their causes, otherwise it will be a never ending problem.
    Help fix our own local problems. Stop creating problems in other countries. Help them get better life so they stop pouring into our countries.

  52. avatar

    It is not an “either / or” problem. It is an “and” problem. But one has to be honest about the problems (what are the “development problems?”) and their causes, otherwise it will be a never ending problem.
    Help fix our own local problems. Stop creating problems in other countries. Help them get better life so they stop pouring into our countries.

  53. avatar
    Andrew Lally

    Europe can help by preventing countries like Germany supplying chemical weapons to countries like Syria (why was Germany manufacturing chemical weapons in the first place?), thereby creating a humanitarian disaster which Germany refuses to pay for now.
    I am sick and tired of countries like the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, etc, providing weapons to known troublemaker countries and all of Europe being later involved in cleaning up the mess they created.

  54. avatar
    Gjergj Ndoci

    If EU loose the sense of HELPING it means that EU is dying from what EU is….. helping has never a problem.

  55. avatar
    Claus Skøtt Christensen

    Well, historically, the European nations haven’t exactly been kind to those nations that are poor today. And frankly, I suspect the reason many of them countries are poor is that all their money has ended up in Europe. So maybe we should just shut up and help where we can.

  56. avatar

    I don’t see why Europe should shoulder the rest of the worlds problems just as we are “cursed” with being developed and wealthy. I can assure you if disaster struck and Europe was hit with famine, plague, etc the Middle East would not do a thing…..

  57. avatar
    Stewart Britten

    I strongly belief that the European Union should aid development in low-income countries, but it should ensure that all the funds it disburses are spent for the purposes intended. Where levels of corruption are high, budget support to governments can go astray and even aid disbursed via UN agencies can be stolen when those agencies contract corrupt national organisations. In contrast, the EU imposes an excessively heavy burden of monitoring on its comparatively small grants to European NGOs for their work in developing countries. Why such a crippling burden on them when more monitoring of much larger sums is needed?

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