You have reported on several recent occasions on the tough battle ahead to secure the EU's future budget (“Clock starts for EU budget showdown” 25-31 October).
Battles have casualties. There is a very real danger that in this battle for the EU budget for the next seven years, developing countries will be among the casualties.
Leaders will be making their decisions conscious of very real financial constraints at home. But they should also be conscious that the aid they are currently giving to some of the world's poorest people is very precious. Results show that EU aid has a huge positive impact on the lives of millions of people. In the past ten years alone, EU aid has helped vaccinate 5.5 million children against life-threatening diseases such as measles and enrolled more than nine million in primary education, giving many families a chance to succeed for the first time.
The small share of the European budget spent on aid works out at only €1.87 per citizen a month, and should not be cut. The EU's citizens seem to realise this. A recent survey showed that 85% of Europeans support development aid to help people out of poverty. Why, then, should Europe go against popular support for a strong European aid budget?
There are many benefits to investing in a common European development budget. Leaders should remember that pooling resources makes money go farther – and should focus on making that money go farther still (a recent assessment commissioned by the European Commission concluded that, if European countries work together by channelling aid through the EU, better co-ordination and more efficient management could result in annual savings of €5 billion).
It would also be the wrong choice to reduce European aid at a time when delivery of aid is getting better. An independent study on aid published this year showed that the European Commission's development programmes are ranked among the most transparent in the world. So let's not take a step back when we are moving forward.
We hope that EU leaders will stand up for a strong European aid budget, in line with Commission proposals, when they meet on 22-23 November.