An entire generation of children could grow up in preventable poverty across the world before European Union countries reach their development aid targets.

This was the conclusion reached by CONCORD’s 2017 AidWatch report, which lifts the lid on how much EU countries are spending to help the world’s poorest people – and what they are spending the money on.

The report reveals that it will take until 2052 for EU states to meet their target of spending 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product on helping to alleviate international poverty, if they continue to increase their spending at the current rate. Considering this target was put in place by the United Nations (UN) in 1970, it will have taken EU countries 82 years to provide the assistance it promised.

While the amount of aid provided by EU states in general increased in 2016, the amount spent providing assistance to the world’s least developed countries decreased for the fourth year in succession.

The figures were instead boosted by states claiming money spent on refugee costs within their own borders as overseas aid, as well as counting funds used to control migration, increase security and enable the private sector in recipient countries. This ‘inflated’ aid provides only a dubious benefit to the world’s poorest people, who received less than 15 cents of every Euro spent by EU countries.

Cautious optimism

However, there is also cause for optimism in the EU’s 2016 overseas aid spending figures.

Total EU aid spending increased by 27 percent compared to 2015, with Germany joining the ‘0.7 Club’ for the first time by meeting the UN aid target. 23 of the 28 EU countries increased the amount they spent on overseas aid – a definite step in the right direction.

But for optimism to be justified, EU countries must stop inflating their aid spending with funds used on refugee care at home or on security, migration control or the private sector abroad.

If the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 is to become a reality, more aid should instead be spent insuring that no child is forced to grow up in extreme poverty while the EU struggles to meet its targets.

You can download CONCORD’s 2017 AidWatch report in full here.