Bill Gates Calls on European Parliament to Lead Aid Efforts in Developing World Bari Bates

  •  brussels (ips)
  • Inter Press Service

This year, the EU will decide on a seven-year budget, with €57 billion at stake for development cooperation. Gates said as a leading donor toward aid in developing countries, other countries look to the EU for cues on budgeting for aid provisions.

'Even in these challenging economic times, there is no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest. Europe has a choice to make,' Gates said.

In a campaign called Living Proof, Gates explained to the committee that European investments, when distributed correctly, have saved millions of lives.

Gates stressed it was something to be proud of, as it has contributed to saving millions of lives throughout the developing world. By budgeting in terms of seven years, as opposed to one, the EU is able to make long-term commitments that allow for thoughtful planning for beneficial programming.

Gates emphasized vaccinations and agriculture as two main areas of focus, and gave Parliament specific statistics of the impact aid has had. In the area of vaccinations, Gates shared the dramatic reduction in the prevalence of diseases such as measles and polio, and the complete eradiation of smallpox.

By purchasing and distributing vaccinations to children in need, it is estimated that four million lives could be saved by 2015, according to ONE, an advocacy organization that works to fight against preventable disease and extreme poverty and the organization behind the Living Proof initiative.

Four million lives is the approximate equivalent of entire cities like Los Angles, Sydney, or Johannesburg.

In terms of agriculture, Gates stressed the importance of agriculture in an economy. Crop productivity allows people to invest in their children and creates a multiplier effect, which allows for self-sufficiency.

Gates ended the presentation by applauding the work the EU has done, and encouraged members to 'continue to increase investment in humanity.'


MEPs applauded Gates and the work his organization has done, with MEP Gay Mitchell calling the presentation the best he has heard in his years of serving in Parliament. Mitchell asked Gates what his opinions were in terms of priorities for aid.

Gates responded that priorities should lie in moving away from aiding middle-income countries, and to provide aid to a few countries with strong governments, as a way to incentivize strong government systems.

Other questions ranged from inquiries on Gates’s thoughts on programs such as One Laptop Per Child, to his personal drive for the work he does.

'Until we stop 800,000 kids dying from malaria, it’s not a priority for me,' he said, of initiatives to provide computers for developing countries.

Newly elected President of the Parliament Martin Schulz thanked Gates for his time, and praised him for the work the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has done, citing it as a 'perfect example of how state and non-state organizations can move forward.'

He said Europe’s long-term stability depends on the stability of other regions throughout the world, and 'an unjust world destabilizes us as well.'

President Schulz concluded to Gates, 'Irrespective of the political colors in this house, the European Parliament will stand shoulder to shoulder with you.'


Later this year, deliberations will take place regarding a seven-year budget for the EU. Proposals for the trillion-euro budget were introduced throughout 2011, and included December releases of the Development Cooperation Instrument and the 11th European Development Fund, via the proposals on External Action Instruments.

The Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) covers three aspects, according to the European Commission. Geographic programs support actions such as poverty eradication, essential needs in education and health, sustainable agricultural development and food security, and assistance post-emergencies to 47 developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Central Asia, the Gulf region, and South Africa.

Thematic programs under the DCI cover broader fields, such as human development, sustainable management of natural resources, non-state and local development authorities, migration and asylum and food security, for all developing countries.

Accompanying measures for the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Sugar Protocol countries, following the EU sugar reform are also included under the DCI.

The proposed budget for the DCI totaled just more than €23 billion.

The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main tool for assisting countries in the African, Caribbean and Pacific region, as well as designated overseas countries and territories with constitutional links to the EU.

The EDF is outside of the EU budget and funded by specific member states according to percentage keys aligned with that of the EU budget.

The 11th EDF calls for increased flexibility and reaction times in the case of unexpected events.

The budget for the 11th EDF calls for approximately €34 billion.

Funding is in step with the guidelines put forth by the Agenda for Change in October 2011. The Agenda for Change called for a refocus on development cooperation, namely to center support on democracy, human rights, and proper governance, as well as support for sustainable human development.

In order to do this, the Agenda for Change called for differentiation in development partnerships and increased coherence among EU polices.

The next step for the budget will be continued negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament, with resolutions reached by the end of 2012.

And in the words of Schulz, the EU must now 'put the money where the mouth is,' in order to assert its role as a world leader in development aid.

© Inter Press Service (2012) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service