Humanitarian watchdogs are aghast at the news of sizable cuts of European development aid to poor countries. The BBC reports on how the pressures of Europe’s economic crisis have reversed a decade-long upward trend in aid:
In the year 2010-11, Spain cut its aid budget—the sixth largest in Europe—by nearly a third.Greece cut its much smaller programme by 40%, according to the Data study, which was published in association with the campaign group ONE.
This isn’t just a problem for the recipients; if cuts like these persist, they will undermine Europe’s effort to project global influence through generous foreign aid. The longer the crisis goes on, the more these aid budgets will suffer and the more Europe’s geopolitical standing will fall.Looking forward, this leaves a clearer field for countries like India and China to throw their weight around—both of them seeking to replace ex-colonial European countries as leading powers in Africa.For decades Europeans have seen progress toward a truly united Europe as a way to magnify their influence around the world and to develop a new kind of postmodern power. But the poor design of the euro project and its disastrous outcome has had exactly the opposite result: Europe is now so consumed with its own worries, and its economy is in so much trouble, that for a few years and possibly longer it is going to have less impact on the world.