Less than half of EU aid going to poor countries

By Oliver Hotham

MPs are warning the government that too much of EU development aid is going to "relatively rich" states.

The international development committee revealed that only 46% of the £1.23 billion Britain gives in aid via the EU is going to low income states.

MPs described the figure as "unacceptable".

The committee is urging the government to challenge the European Union's definition of official development assistance (ODA) which defines which countries are eligible for aid.

Chair of the committee Malcolm Bruce said the ODA "appears to be being used as a way of fudging the figures to help other European countries meet the target for 0.7% of GDP to be given as aid".

He added: "The government should be bolder and less risk averse by tackling the criteria for ODA so that more funding goes to the world's poorest people and the poorest countries, and less to the European neighbourhood.

"Giving aid to relatively rich countries like Turkey could devalue the concept of aid."

Minister for international development Andrew Mitchell said that while he agreed more focus should be placed on poorer countries, "it would take forever and be difficult" to exclude richer countries from the ODA.

Two of the largest recipients of EU aid, the committee found, have been Turkey and Serbia – both ranked as highly developed by the UN Human Development index.

The committee did, however, praise EU development aid for encouraging countries to spend more on aid.