“European Union ministers last night surprised and delighted aid agencies around the world when they agreed a dramatic increase in help to countries in Africa and the rest of the developing world that will see the EU's richest states reach the United Nations' historic goal of giving 0.7% of national income in aid by 2015.”I’ll just bet they are pleased and delighted. Just for a few moments it looked like some of those cushy jobs will disappear (not for long – NGOs are the biggest growth industry in the world) and the unfortunate people of Africa might start freeing themselves from those kleptocratic bloodthirsty tyrants with their socialist policies, whom aid has supported all these decades.
But hooray, hooray, the EU has promised to go on squandering money on projects that have been proved to be corrupt, inefficient and completely pointless time and time again.
One cannot help wondering how it is that suddenly an agreement was pulled out of a hat and Tony Blair’s “international reputation” was saved. Could this be another move in the EU’s endless attempts to position itself against the United States? Certainly, the Guardian’s story does not exactly deny that:
“The unexpected success in Brussels will intensify pressure on other rich countries, notably the United States, to increase their own efforts to "make poverty history". It will also raise hopes that the pro-development partnership between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will end on a high note, not with the damp squib many critics have feared.”The notion that more money flung at the people who have created and increased poverty in Africa is somehow “pro-development” exists only in the fevered imagination of the NGOs and their supporters in the left-leaning media, such as the Guardian or the BBC. It is, of course, a completely anti-development policy. But it does have a tremendous advantage for the EU: there will be no need to change all those protectionist trade regulations that largely keep Third World produce out of the European countries.
Mind you, promises are not the same as achievements, despite the whoops of joy emitted by Christian Aid, Oxfam and all the other usual suspects.
“The Treasury said last night that if all 25 EU member states meet yesterday's series of parallel pledges and some go beyond them, as they plan to do, EU collective aid to developing countries, including Africa, will rise from $40bn (£22bn) this year to $80bn in 2010.”If, indeed. And if they don’t? Well, who cares? Posaturing is what matters. After all, there is no particular reference to achievement, merely to meeting pledges. What happens to the money afterwards, whether it gets stolen by EU agencies or local officials, whether it is squandered by NGOs on endless conferences and comfortable quarters for their staff, whether it goes into Swiss bank account, arms for terrorists or great big useless constructions that glorify the current tyrant, it matters not.
In fact, Oxfam gives the game away.
“But the deal's potential significance lies in its impact on other countries. "It's really fantastic, it could have been better, but it's a very generous deal that lays down the gauntlet to the United States and Japan. We were desperate for such an injection of cash into the poker game they are all playing," said a spokesman for Oxfam.”Not that desperate, surely. What happened to the last lot of squillions of pounds they collected?
But, of course, it is all about international politics and squaring up to other countries, like the United States. Never mind, that America pours untold amounts into the Third World through government help and private charity. Never mind, that it is America, Japan and Australia that provided the fastest, most effective, most efficient aid after the Tsunami. What matters is the pledge.
And just to show how good the whole idea is, the squabbling has already begun. Having made the pledge,
“Italy, Germany and Portugal issued statements in Brussels warning that their budget problems may hit EU borrowing limits and stop them meeting the target. EU officials made light of the problem.”Christian Aid is pouring scorn on Gordon Brown, particularly on the idea that donor nations should somehow insist on “good governance”. Just hand over the money and ask no questions. How can you doubt that Christian Aid and others of that ilk will spend it beneficially.
Other aid experts (who dem?) say that reform of governance is essential, without explaining how that is to be achieved.
Let us hope that America, Japan and Russia (Blair is flying there as well, but one cannot quite see Puttin going along with this nonsense) will demand some evidence of achivement before they start trying to match the pledges.