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Aid and the next EU budget

The development of the next Multiannual Financial Framework is an opportunity for the European Union and its Member States to agree on how to implement a global vision for development cooperation that is rooted in European values. 

Róisín Hinds of Oxfam Ireland appearing before Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade with Suzanne Keatinge of Dóchas and Trócaire’s Niamh Garvey. Photo: Oireachtas TV

Brexit might be dominating headlines across the European Union – but it’s not the only show in town. The EU’s development assistance and humanitarian cooperation instruments will be undergoing a fundamental shift in the coming months, with the development of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The MFF will set out the EU’s budget for the seven years from 2021 to 2027. Not only will it lock down the EU’s priorities in terms of financial allocations and the instruments used to implement them, it will help set the EU’s future trajectory in a range of policy areas, including development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, human rights and foreign policy. Last month, Oxfam Ireland appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade with our colleagues in Dóchas to discuss the future of EU aid and Ireland’s role in its development.

Ireland’s aid programme, which is not only an important feature of the country’s foreign policy, also demonstrates its commitment to human rights. During the recent launch of the public consultation for Irish Aid’s new policy, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that Ireland’s “development programme last year reached over 120 countries. It is recognised as one of the best in the world and its good reputation opens doors for Ireland everywhere… The effectiveness of Ireland’s development cooperation programme amplifies Ireland’s voice within the UN. It will be a significant asset in our tough race to win a seat on the UN Security Council for 2021 and 2022”.

Ireland has always been recognised as a donor which “excels” in delivering effective aid. Consecutive OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) peer reviews have praised the quality of Ireland’s aid programme, including its focus on the poorest and most vulnerable countries and the commitment to untied aid. The added value for Ireland working with the EU in development and humanitarian action is clear and acknowledged – cooperation provides economies of scale, efficiency and can enable a stronger impact. With EU aid instruments comprising 46 percent of Ireland’s multilateral aid spend in 2017, it is critical that the Irish government plays a leading role in the development of the new MFF to ensure that EU aid is being used for the intended purposes to alleviate poverty and reduce vulnerability.

A streamlined architecture: flexible but not accountable

In May this year, the European Commission (EC) presented its plans to overhaul the EU’s budget, with the MFF proposal identifying the priorities, budget and architecture for 2021 to 2027. The title of the EU’s budget proposal, “Neighbourhood and the World”, encompasses all EU external actions, including development cooperation. Presenting the proposal, the EU’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, stated that it is “first and foremost a political statement in favour of a stronger European Union in international affairs”.

The most substantial change in the proposal is the creation of a broad single instrument, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), which merges 12 external funding instruments – including the European Development Fund – into one. Civil society has long advocated for the simplification of EU funding instruments to avoid fragmentation and support flexibility. However, the EC’s proposal puts varied development and foreign policy objectives under the same umbrella and fails to achieve balance by reconciling different policy areas. As Europe’s political environment becomes increasingly insular, oversimplification risks promoting short-term EU domestic interests – particularly on migration and security – at the expense of international cooperation and development.  

As it currently stands, the NDICI’s objectives are overwhelmingly focused on foreign and security policy. Poverty eradication, which should be the primary focus of the instrument, is not explicitly mentioned in its aims (Article 3). The policy framework (Article 7) and the general principles (Article 8) of the regulation are vague and would benefit from strengthened language and an increased focus on alleviating poverty and reducing vulnerability. 

The commitment to spend 0.7 percent of collective EU Gross National Income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance (ODA), as well as the benchmarking of 0.2 percent to the least developed countries, are welcome and should be defended. However, Oxfam would like to see these commitments included in the main body of regulation text – and not just in the introduction, which is not legally binding. While we welcome the Commission’s proposal to keep a separate humanitarian instrument, we recommend that the budget is increased by a further €2 billion annually to address and complexity and scale of humanitarian need. The MFF will not only determine the role the EU can play as a leading humanitarian aid donor, it will also shape the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the aid that humanitarian partners are able to deliver.

Migration, aid and short-sighted priorities

While the Commission’s proposal includes several positive elements on migration and displacement, such as focusing support on “human rights-based migration policies, including protection programmes” [Annex II, section 3(f)], and “development-based solutions for forcibly displaced persons and their host communities” [Annex II, section 3(i)], the overall approach to migration is not in line with the EU’s global strategy or OECD DAC definitions of Official Development Assistance. The proposed regulation includes an ambition to stem irregular migration to Europe, with references to “fighting”, “mitigating” or “tackling” the root causes of irregular migration. There is also a 10 percent financial envelope set aside for partner countries based on their performance in several areas, including cooperation on migration. This raises series concerns around the conditionality of aid. In addition, the budget includes a €10.2 billion “emerging challenges and priorities cushion”, with little detail on what this is for, how it will be spent and how it will be governed. In the current political context, the risk is that it will be used for short-term EU political interests, rather than long-term development which is based on development effectiveness principles.

Migration has been well-established as a powerful poverty reduction tool for migrants, their families and wider communities, and as having an important role in contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While several SDGs recognise the economic value of migration, Target 10.7 specifically calls for the facilitation of “safe, regular and responsible migration” and the implementation of “well-managed policies”. The use of NDICI funds to stem irregular migration puts the EU’s long-term objectives of building resilience and sustainable development at risk and may even lead to a destabilisation in conflict-affected regions.

Analysis of the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and other programmes designed to prevent migration reveals that efforts to reduce cross-border movement between African countries has resulted in some communities losing access to livelihoods, for example, by restricting access to local markets across the nearest border or by reducing intra-continental migration. Oxfam analysis of the EUTF’s migration management projects also finds that 97 percent of the budget has gone to containment and deterrence and only 3 percent has been allocated to making migration routes safer and cheaper. This illustrates donors’ disproportionate focus on reinforcing borders and blocking mobility over long-term development and human rights-based solutions.

 

Maintaining the integrity of aid

As Ireland looks to expand global presence and meet the international commitment to 0.7 percent spending, it is critical that we play an active role in the development of the new MFF. Ireland must stand against the instrumentalisation of aid for migration control, ensure respect for development effectiveness principles and preserve development objectives, which by their nature, should remain autonomous from foreign policy interests. In the next MFF, aid must only be used for its intended purposes of alleviating poverty and reducing vulnerability; for programmes that address the needs of displaced people and host communities and to increase the development benefits of migration – not to contribute to the EU’s short-term foreign policy ambitions to prevent migration.

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Unwrapped Gifts: The Road to an Education

Every child dreams of waking up on Christmas morning and finding a bicycle under the tree. Because nothing comes close to the magic of that first bike – and the feeling of independence it brings. As part of the Oxfam Unwrapped charity gift range, this year we have launched a new, wheely great gift – The Road to an Education (€65/£55) – which is helping children to get to school.

Left: Esnat* with her Oxfam bike. Photo: Corinna Kern. Right: Zainab* was always late for school. Photo: Corinna Kern

For some children, a bike can even be life-changing. Young girls like Esnat*, who used to walk 25km to get to school. She used to doze off in the classroom and fall asleep as soon as she got home.

“When I got home, I didn’t study as I was too tired,” she said. “My body and legs would ache; sometimes I would skip lessons.”

As part of the Oxfam Unwrapped charity gift range, this year we have launched a new, wheely great gift – The Road to an Education (€65/£55) – which is helping children to get to school.  With this gift, you can help to educate a girl like Esnat* who almost gave up on school before she received her Oxfam bike. Giving feels great - it's true. But we also know how good it feels to receive something truly life-changing - like a gift that lifts people out of poverty. That's what makes Unwrapped so special.

Because Esnat* isn’t the only girl to face challenges getting to school. For vulnerable communities, there can be many bumps in the road to an education.  The daily struggle of travelling long distances and threats to safety along the way mean many children, especially girls, are forced to drop out.

Put them on The Road to an Education with our gift – and it will help change their lives. 

*Name has been changed

Money raised from this gift supports our Investing in Futures projects. Oxfam Unwrapped helps people build happier, brighter futures.

Oxfam joins with Yemeni and international organisations to call for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen

As humanitarian, human rights and peacebuilding organisations working for and in Yemen, Oxfam and 34 other organisations welcome tomorrow’s unprecedented meeting of legislators from across nations and parties for the first International Parliamentary Conference for Peace in Yemen to demand governments work together to end the crisis. With 14 million men, women and children on the brink of famine – half the country’s population – there has never been a more urgent time to act. 
 
Oxfam and 34 other Yemeni and international organisations call on governments to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities, suspend the supply of arms at risk of being used in Yemen, guarantee unimpeded access and movement for vital imports, condemn any attacks on civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law by any party and support international investigations into these violations, including the work of UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen.  
 
Events in recent weeks have added to a long list of examples of disregard by Saudi Arabia for the international rules-based system and have brought renewed focus on the need for the international community, particularly the US, the UK and France, to reassess their partnerships with Riyadh. Any supporter of and arms supplier to the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition bears a special moral and legal responsibility to ensure that the coalition complies with international humanitarian law in Yemen. In light of the ongoing unlawful attacks against civilians by all parties in Yemen, widely documented by the UN Group of Eminent Experts, we add our voices to those of over one million of the global public and reiterate the call we have been making for years to all governments to suspend the supply of all arms at risk of being used in Yemen.   
 
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is manmade and a direct consequence of the warring parties’ severe restrictions on access to food, fuel, medical imports and humanitarian aid. The collapse of the Yemeni Rial and the non-payment of public sector workers is adding to the catastrophe. In addition, civilian deaths have increased dramatically in recent months - with 450 civilians killed in just 9 days in August - and violence against women and girls has risen significantly since the conflict escalated. We call on governments to redouble their efforts to guarantee unimpeded access to essential items, including fuel, in and throughout Yemen, including through the lifeline port of Hodeidah, where civilians have been caught in renewed fighting over the past few days. Any indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, and other violations of international humanitarian law by any party should be publicly condemned by the international community.   
 
Parliamentarians have a special responsibility to represent the voices of their constituents and hold their governments to account. On the eve of the inaugural Paris Peace Forum convened by President Macron to promote peace and improve global governance, we hope this conference will be a wake-up call. There is no military solution to the war in Yemen. Only an inclusive peace process can solve the humanitarian crisis.  
 
After almost four years of conflict, Yemenis can’t wait any longer.

 

CONTACT: Spokespeople here and in the region are available for interview. For interviews or more information, please contact: Alice Dawson-Lyons on 083 198 1869 / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

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Give something different this Christmas with Oxfam

Oxfam’s Fair Trade and ethically-sourced gifts change lives for good

Give something different this Christmas with Oxfam Ireland – give a gift that changes lives for good.

From quirky stocking fillers and ethically sourced crafts, to fab Fair Trade food, unique decorations and the Unwrapped alternative gift card range – Oxfam’s life-saving and life-changing gifts are the something special you’ve been looking for.

These gifts are guaranteed to help beat poverty for good by raising vital funds for Oxfam’s work across the world – from development projects that change lives in Rwanda, Tanzania and beyond to saving lives in places like Yemen where millions of people face hunger and disease.  

Send your loved ones lots of hogs and kisses this year with the Unwrapped gift card range. Available online and in Oxfam shops across the island of Ireland, these beautiful printed or electronic cards start at just €10/£7 and support a wide range of life-changing projects.

New additions for 2018 are Two Little Pigs (€40/£35), A Cow (€50/£46), or The Road to an Education (€65/£55). Every gift in the Unwrapped range helps to create a brighter, happier future for people living in severe poverty – from supporting people who depend on animals for their livelihoods and helping people get the education and training they need to thrive to ensuring people caught up in emergencies have essentials like clean water. To see Oxfam’s full range of Unwrapped gifts, visit oxfamireland.org/unwrapped.

Meanwhile, in Oxfam shops nationwide, a host of Fair Trade and ethically-sourced gifts cater for all your Christmas essentials. There are brand new stocking fillers from €1.50/£1.20 like chocolate coins, mulled wine and spiced cider, retro games and novelty socks plus cards and gift-wrap paper.  

All of the quality food treats in-store are Fair Trade, so whether you choose from the new offerings of the Double Chocolate and Raspberry Shortbread (€5/£3.99), Beer Bread (choose from Chilli & Garlic or Olive & Rosemary, both €6/£4.99) or the Trio Sauce Set (Peri Peri chili sauce, Baobab spicy relish and Safari BBQ – €15/£12.99), these thoughtful present ideas will be sure to delight your foodie friends.

Staying with food, Sally Butcher’s book Veggiestan (€20/£15.99) is a vegetable lover’s tour of the Middle East, while other reads include Cath Tate’s hilarious Christmas: The Season To Be Jolly (€7/£5.99), which pairs vintage photos with witty captions.

Among the quirky new additions to Oxfam’s gift range for the home are the Recycled Tyre Picture Frame (€10/£7.99), colourful ceramic tile hooks (€4/£2.99), and a ‘nosey’ spectacles holder (€10/£7.99).

New gifts for her include a Hand-made Embroidered Purse (€6/£4.99), a Hand-made Embroidered Pouch (€9/£6.99), 2019 Family Organisers (€10/£7.99) by either Ailsa Black or Clare Wilson, or how about some Belgian Pralines (€10/£8.49)?

New gifts for him include a fascinating spotters guide book on the world’s top Film and TV Locations (€7/£5.99); and if that involves some travels then he will also appreciate the gift of a Hand-made Paisley Washbag (€9/£6.99).

Younger children will love reading Hoot (€7/£5.99), a ‘hole-some book of counting’, while there are new additions to the Matchbox Trivia Games and Puzzles for kids of all ages (€5/£3.99).

Whatever you buy from Oxfam’s Christmas range, you’ll be supporting their work worldwide, helping to change lives for good through their long-term development work, emergency response and campaigning to tackle the root causes of poverty and injustice.

Give something different today: simply call into one of Oxfam’s shops across the island, phone 1850 30 40 55 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800 0 30 40 55 (Northern Ireland) or visit www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped.

 

For more information or to request further images/the full list of gifts on offer, please contact:

ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons on 083 198 1869 / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

NI:        Phillip Graham on 07841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

Oxfam welcomes €110m increase in aid budget and commitment to transparent, sustainable and legitimate corporate tax system

Aid agency calls for gender analysis of Budget 2019 and future budgets
 
Reacting to Budget 2019, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken said: 
 
“Ireland made a commitment to spend 70 cent in every €100 on aid by 2030. Today's announcement of an increase of €110million for the aid budget - bringing it to its highest level in a decade after years of decline - shows strong commitment to delivering on this promise.
 
“Investing in saving and transforming the lives of people affected by poverty and disaster is not only the right thing to do but it is good for Ireland, supporting peace, stability and development. 
 
“We welcome the Government's commitment to a transparent, sustainable and legitimate corporate tax system, including their planned review and update of Ireland's transfer pricing rules. 
 
“Rising inequality is destroying people's lives and makes it impossible to find lasting solutions to global poverty. To end this - at home and overseas - the Government must do more to reform Ireland's corporate tax rules and ensure big businesses and wealthy are paying their fair share of taxes where they pay profit.
 
“With some increases to social spending, we would like to see a gender analysis of this  budget and all future budgets to ensure that women are positively impacted. Women rely more on part-time work, public services and deliver more unpaid care than men - budget decisions must support them." 
 
ENDS
 
CONTACT: Spokespeople are available. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: 
 
Alice Dawson-Lyons, Oxfam Ireland: alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org or +353 (0) 83 198 1869
 
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