The EU is now deciding its spending priorities for the next seven years, EUR 93 billion in funding choices that will shape not just the future of the EU, but the planet. A crucial step in determining the budget – the Multinational Financial Framework (MFF) – was made when the European Parliament (EP) voted that a strong portion of development aid should support the climate, the environment and human rights.
In a binding vote on the EU’s future Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), EP committees on Foreign Affairs and on Development passed a series of amendments to the European Commission’s proposed MFF regulation. With the EP’s amendments, the first goal of the instrument would be “to contribute to the achievement of the international commitments and objectives that the Union has agreed to, in particular the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.”
The EP’s spending target of 45 per cent for climate objectives and environmental protection – of which 30 per cent must go to climate action – is a marked improvement on the Commission’s proposed 25 per cent. The increase would contribute to international support for developing countries from 2020 under the Paris Agreement, and strengthen the EU’s efforts to protect forests and local people’s livelihoods in vulnerable countries.
MEPs also agreed that the budget should not be used to fund action that harms the environment and climate. Their focus on strengthened governance and accountability of EU aid is also welcome and would increase transparency about where and how funding is disbursed, and whether it reaches the most vulnerable groups.
This text is not the final version of the NDICI, however – it constitutes the EP’s position for future negotiations with the Commission and European Council. Pressure is now mounting on EU Member States to build on the outcome of the MEPs’ vote.
The devil will be in the details. The urgent need to halt climate change, global deforestation and the collapse of biodiversity has been amply documented. Civil society is therefore asking the Council to ensure that this urgency is reflected in their final decision on how development aid is spent.