Juncker speaks at European Development Days 2018 event

Juncker speaks at European Development Days 2018 event
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker © EU2017EE

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker opened the European Development Days 2018 event, for which Government Europa is a media partner, by discussing the EU’s commitment to aid and sustainable development.

The European Development Days 2018 event will be held today and tomorrow (5-6 June) in Brussels, Belgium, and will focus on the empowerment of women and girls as a priority of aid and sustainable development funding.

The European Commission has been eager to stress its ongoing commitment to international development and aid funding, particularly in light of the bloc’s recently proposed multiannual financial framework, and in his opening address, Juncker sought to reassure partners from the African Union and other beneficiaries from aid funding that they would remain a priority.

How will Europe’s approach to aid change?

Juncker warned gathered European stakeholders against having a ‘navel-gazing’ attitude, insisting that there is often a perception that if things are going well in Europe, they must be going well across the world. What’s more, many European stakeholders feel that the EU has all the answers and can take responsibility for the world’s problems.

Juncker cautioned against this attitude, and said that instead, Europe now needs to focus on multilateral partnerships with other world powers, and particularly with countries in Africa, in which all parties are equals. This, he argued, will ensure that the EU’s founding principles of peace, liberty and prosperity are shared throughout the world.

How will this be affected by the new EU budget?

In recognition of what Juncker identified as the potential for strong economic growth in Africa, the commission president hailed a recent package of measures worth €467m adopted by the EU. Europe is already one of the world’s leading providers of aid, having allocated some €76m this year alone, and Juncker said that the commission also aims to increase its efforts to mobilise private investment to supplement this.

What’s more, in order to reinforce the EU’s commitment to development in Africa and elsewhere in the world, Juncker welcomed the recent announcement that as part of its upcoming budget for the period 2021-2027, the EU has committed to increasing its provision of external aid by 26%, even despite the overall decrease in available funds caused by Brexit.

This will amount to a total aid budget of €123bn for the period, with which the EU aims to strengthen global capabilities to address four key challenges: security, climate change, human rights and irregular migration.

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