The European Union (EU) is shifting its focus when providing aid to China, moving away from development support in face of an emerging economy, an EU official said on Wednesday.
"We will still do development aid to China, but there is a need for exit strategy, which does not mean you have to drop immediately development cooperation, but we have to prepare the exit strategy during our phasing out of development cooperation," Alexandra Chambel, former evaluation manager at the European Commission's external aid unit, told a conference on the EU's co-operation and partnership with China between 1998 and 2006.
Chambel said the EU's aid policy change was mainly due to the fact that China is now an emerging economy and the world's fourth largest economic power.
The EU, together with member states, is the world's largest donor. It spent almost 47 billion euros in development aid globally, accounting for more than half of the world's total.
Although the EU pledged to further increase its development aid,a richer China is set to get less.
For the five years between 2002 and 2006, EU budget of aid to China was 250 million euros. However, indicative funding for the next seven-year period from 2007 to 2013 fell to 224 million euros.
"The budget is going to be reduced," Chambel said, "This is the result of the type of the relationship we want with China. We are moving from traditional development cooperation to more equal partnership."
Chambel, who just quit her evaluation job in the aid unit for other post, said EU's cooperation with China has started to change since the 2002-2006 period, moving away from the previous areas of infrastructure and rural development towards support for social and economic reform, the environment and sustainable development, and good governance and the rule of law.
In a strategy paper for 2007-2013 period, the EU set out three main areas for cooperation with China, namely policy dialogues, climate change and human resources development.
"Crosscutting issues including governance, the environment, and gender will be mainstreamed," the commission's aid unit said on its website.
(Xinhua News Agency May 22, 2008)