Millennium Development Goals

France champions innovative financing for development

The European Union pledged one billion euros to help with the Millennium Development Goals at a summit in New York on Monday and some world leaders called for new taxes to help make up the 91-billion-euro shortfall in development aid, which needs to be filled in the next five years if the goals are to be met.


EU commission president Jose Manuel Barrosso made the offer at the end of the first day of the summit on the goals.

“We have to produce more effective results because time is running out,” said Barrosso.

The money will come from the European Development Fund and will go to countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific region. It has not yet been allocated to specific objectives.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, meanwhile, joined French President Nicolas Sarkozy is calling for an international financial tax to help cut poverty.

Zapatero said his government had promised to defend the goals, and to do that he had to support a tax on each financial transaction.

“We have no right to shelter behind the economic crisis as supposed grounds for doing less,” said Sarkozy. “Finance has globalised so why should we not ask finance to participate in stabilising the world?”

He also said France would increase its payments to the United Nations fund on Aids and malaria by 60 million euros a year to 360 million euros a year.

France is one of the biggest supporters of so-called innovative financing methods for aid; it was the first country to introduce a tax on airlines to help pay for aid. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls France a "champion" of the air travel tax, which has spread to South Korea, Chile, Madagascar, Mauritius and Niger.

Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte D'Ivoire and Mali are set to introduce the airline seat surcharge.

Unitaid, the international organisation that manages the money raised, says about 70 per cent of the one billion dollars it has made in health since 2006 has come from the air seat tax.

Security around the summit was stepped up Tuesday as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to address delegates. Ambassadors from several countries are expected to walk out during his speech to protest against Iran's nuclear programme.

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