Learning English - Words in the News
25 May, 2005 - Published 14:43 GMT
EU to increase aid spending
European Union Development ministers have agreed to increase aid spending, to more than nought point five per cent of national income in five years time and to nought point seven per cent in 2015. This report from Andrew Walker:
If the European Union implements the agreement in full, it would fulfil a long standing United Nations target - that the rich countries should spend nought point seven per cent of their national income on development aid. Currently only four EU countries meet the target - Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg as well as one non-EU country, Norway.
For the EU as a whole, the current level is about half the target. The agreement in Brussels would cut the shortfall in half by 2010 and eliminate it altogether five years later.
However three countries - Germany, Italy and Portugal - issued their own statements, pointing out the difficult situation of their government finances, perhaps an early warning that they might have difficulty finding the extra money while complying with EU rules which limit government borrowing.
Aid and development are important themes in international politics this year. They will be on the agenda at the summit in July of the G8 major powers, which includes the US and Japan as well as the big EU countries. The host, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, wants the summit to agree a large increase in aid and debt relief for Africa. Japan and the US are currently far behind the UN aid target.
In September, there will be a United Nations Summit, where aid, debt and poverty reduction will also be leading issues. The underlying objective is to achieve a number of targets known as the millennium development goals for reducing poverty and related problems.
Andrew Walker, BBC
fulfil a long standing United Nations target
cut the shortfall
eliminate it altogether
have difficulty finding
be on the agenda