By Martin Banks - 4th April 2012
Europe reaffirms its solidarity with the poorest across the world
Sixteen member states managed to increase their overseas aid last year despite the recession, according to new data.
With €53bn of development aid in 2011, the EU and its member states remains the world biggest donor, providing more than half of global official aid.
These are the preliminary figures of an official development aid published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday.
According to the report, three member states are ranked among the five largest donors worldwide and four of them have already reached the target of spending 0.7 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) on aid.
EU official development aid reached 0.42 per cent of EU GNI, which exceeds the efforts of other major donors.
However, the OECD says "efforts are still needed" to reach the agreed target of 0.7 per cent EU GNI by 2015.
Responding to the data, EU development commissioner Andris Piebalgs said, "Despite the crisis, Europe reaffirms its solidarity with the poorest across the world.
"EU aid has pulled millions of people out of poverty and saved countless lives over the last ten years.
"Development aid is both solidarity and an investment to make the world safer and more prosperous. I therefore call on member states to reaffirm their commitment to achieving the goal of increasing ODA to 0.7 per cent of GNI by 2015".
Meanwhile, in a new briefing, the UK-based group Open Europe assesses the state of the Spanish economy in light of recent budget proposals.
Raoul Ruparel, Open Europe’s head of economic research, said, "Spain is not the next Greece it remains a serious and diverse economy, with relatively good administration and infrastructure.
"However, the increasing exposure of its banks to potentially toxic loans, the difficulty in curbing Spanish regions' spending and the risk of reforms not taking effect quickly enough, all raise serious questions as to whether the Spanish economy will make it through without some sort of external help.
"One in five loans to the real estate and construction sectors held by Spanish banks is now potentially toxic, a situation which could explode if house prices continue to drop.
"It’s not at all clear that the Spanish state could afford to recapitalise its banks in the case of severe losses, meaning that banks may be forced to tap the eurozone bailout fund instead, shifting even more of the risk onto European taxpayers."
"The Spanish government deserves credit for the structural reforms that it has undertaken but further reforms are desperately needed, in particular on the labour market, if Spain wishes to have a sustainable future inside the eurozone."