SEATTLE — The German government has approved an increase in spending on international development aid to €7.4 billion ($7.9 billion) in its 2016 budget plan. This is still short of the 0.7 percent target, The Guardian reports. Nonetheless, it is the both largest increase and the highest development aid budget ever passed in the history of the Federal Republic.
Germany is still behind other European nations and the United Nations (U.N.) 0.7 percent spending target on international development. In 2014, Germany’s spending on international development was merely 0.42 percent of GDP.
There will be an additional €1.3 billion in funding available this year for German ministries to assist vulnerable countries. Development aid is expected to increase to more than €8.3 billion by 2019.
The German Foundation for World Population commended the increase in aid, but noted that additional resources would be necessary to meet the 0.7 percent target. Even with the most recent budget increase, Germany has much more work to do in reaching the 0.7 percent goal. In 2000, as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the international community vowed to increase its spending on Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7 percent by 2015.
The Guardian reports that ONE, an international advocacy NGO in the fight against extreme poverty, has urged the German government to allocate half of the funds in the latest budget increase to the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the world. Andreas Hübers, a political advisor at ONE, said: “To this day, many top receivers of German development aid continue to be G20 countries and newly industrialized countries.”
According to Handelsblatt, in order to facilitate the U.N. aid spending objectives, Germany will begin to classify its domestic spending on refugees as international development. Eckhardt Rehberg, a member of the federal budget committee, said that Germany has a large financial responsibility in the world, and that “this is a big leap toward the 0.7 percent goal.”
Countries such as Sweden and the U.K. have regarded money expended on refugees as international development spending for a long time. As a result, both nations have been able to meet or surpass the U.N. 0.7 percent target: the former exceeding the target, spending 1.09 percent of GDP on foreign aid.
The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, said to Handelsblatt: “the increasingly difficult international environment” is the reason for increased spending. A ministry spokesman also said that the German government is faced with mounting “imponderables and uncertainties.”
In 2015, Al Jazeera reported that Germany had registered 1.1 million asylum seekers: 40 percent of those influxes were generated from Syrians seeking refuge from the war-ravaged country.
The immigrant arrivals in 2015 were five times higher than for the previous year, with 428,468 Syrians, 154,046 Afghans and 121,662 Iraqis seeking refuge. Not all of the asylum requests will be honored. Germany has promised to send back “economic migrants” from countries that are not involved in any protracted violent conflict.
Applicants fleeing war, like from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan (combining to make up almost 50 percent of the applicants) will have higher chances of gaining refugee status.
In total, according to the federal finance ministry, Germany spent €12.5 billion in 2014 (0.42 percent of GDP) on global poverty eradication. If domestic spending on refugees is included in its ODA spending, this raises that amount to 0.52 percent for 2015 and will reach 0.6 percent in 2016.
– Heidi Grossman