EU considers extra aid for poor nations in crisis
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union plans to examine ways to create an aid buffer for poor countries that are vulnerable to international financial and other shocks, the EU executive said on Monday.
Many low-income countries depend economically on commodity exports, which are highly sensitive to factors such as financial market shocks, and to the weather. To help them survive such changes, a special EU fund could be ready for 2012-2013, the European Commission said.
"The vulnerability of low-income countries to external shocks remains high," the Commission said in a statement. "In 2012, the Commission will therefore examine the feasibility of developing a proposal for a shock-absorbing mechanism to be implemented as necessary during 2012-13, prioritising rapid and effective disbursement."
The Commission was presenting its annual aid report, which also said the European Union remained committed to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, a set of targets for reducing global poverty, by 2015.
"European taxpayers can be proud that the EU is delivering on its commitments, helping to improve the lives of those who most need our help and respecting our aim of spending 0.7 percent GNI on development by 2015," EU Aid Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said in a statement.
GNI, or gross national income, is a measure of a country's total economic activity, calculated slightly differently from GDP, or gross domestic product.
After last year's Arab Spring, the European Union altered some of its development priorities to focus more on governance, employment and youth, the report said.
Up to 1 billion euros (787.60 million pounds) of additional funding was also pledged to North African countries for the period of 2011-2013 in response to the protests, bringing their aid total to 4.5 billion euros.
(Reporting By Ethan Bilby, editing by Sebastian Moffett and Tim Pearce.)