Generation Brexit

EU and UK development policy must not deteriorate

Brexit could have a major impact on both British and EU development and humanitarian policies, especially aid.

The UK leaving the EU would challenge the EU’s role as the world’s leading donor and the UK’s role as part of this. While global aid may decrease by up to 3 %, the EU could lose between 10 % and 13 % of its world aid share. Its influence, through official development assistance (ODA), in neighbouring countries throughout Eastern Europe and North Africa could be particularly affected, with a cut of between 1 % and 4 % possible.

As a result, the UK and EU should react to Brexit by trying to maintain their current roles as global leaders in development after Britain leaves the EU as much as possible.

Some have said that Brexit could provide an opportunity to forge a new role in the world for the UK - a new role as a ‘Truly Global Britain’. This theme is central to the UK Department for International Development's (DFID) 2017 'Economic Development Strategy: Prosperity, Poverty and Meeting Global Challenges', which says ‘Britain is redefining and reinforcing its place in the world’.

However, the UK will have to choose to focus this funding on bilateral or multilateral partners, such as EU states, and there is a risk, if this is not managed well, that aid reclaimed from the EU would only be spent in ‘the national interest’ with an emphasis on trade and economic development instead of in aid of development to the poorest and most in-need parts of the world. Initiatives aimed at forging economic ties to replace those lost post-Brexit may well have a positive impact in terms of jobs and economic growth, but these do not automatically translate into actual poverty reduction or increases in social wellbeing, and it is crucial that these goals remain at the heart of development policy if the UK is to remain a leading global donor of aid and international development, working alongside the EU to ensure the most vulnerable people worldwide receive the aid they need. 


Image Source: Crown Copyright/Sgt Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF/Flickr

edited on Jan 21, 2018 by Marta Koch

Evie J Feb 25, 2018

Great post! In response to what you said about Britain reinforcing its role in the world, do you think people are overlooking the fact that we are a much smaller country without the power linked to being in the EU?

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Olivia Fitzpatrick Feb 26, 2018

So do you think that when the Uk do leave, as we are a much smaller country we will be seen as weaker as we no longer have the support and power of being within the EU ?

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Tara Hinds Feb 26, 2018

I think the UK, despite being small, will still have great influence in the global economy but we will definitely have less power because of not having EU backing.

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Shreya Kochhar Mar 4, 2018

I agree completely, it is not only the UK’s influence that is at stake but also the amount of aid available to developing countries. The EU will lose the UK’s substantial contribution, forcing it to scale back the common development policy. Furthermore, in a post-Brexit world, maintaining the level of generosity of UK aid, and the 0.7% commitment, will be a challenge. There is no guarantee that the government will not divert part of the money that is currently sent to Brussels for development. A potentially long and painful Brexit-induced recession may also force the government to make cuts and abandon the 0.7% target. Finally, post-Brexit Britain and British society may become more inward-looking, and public opinion can become more hostile towards foreign aid, especially when there are powerful social medias out there already saying Britain should stop aid.

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