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Bono Joins EU Appeal for Doubling of Africa Aid

Posted on Thursday, June 09 @ 19:17:53 CEST by Macphisto

(Scotsman.com) -- U2 singer Bono today joined European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in an appeal for government leaders to double development aid to Africa and other poor regions over the next 10 years.

The campaigning Irish rock star said a commitment to cut poverty in Africa could rekindle public support for the European Union in the wake of the rejection of the EU’s constitution plans by French and Dutch voters.

“People don’t feel Europe; they feel Europe does not have a vision,” Bono said. “Africa and the problems of that continent can offer us a chance for Europe to re-describe ourselves, our value system.”

He and Barroso urged EU leaders at their summit next week to throw their political weight behind a plan endorsed by European development ministers to take the EU’s 46 billion euros (£30.9billion) annual development aid to more than 90 billion euros (£60.3billion) by 2015.

“The promises made by development ministers in the past few weeks are astonishing,” Bono said. “That is the Europe I want to be part of.”

Barroso said EU leaders should not let differences over the battered constitution prevent them from committing to fighting poverty. He urged European nations to take a lead on aid before next month’s G8 meeting of the world’s economic powers in Scotland, where aid to the poor is expected to top the agenda.

“The fact that we have some problems in Europe now is not a reason to let Africa drop off the political map,” he said.

EU leaders are expected to back the plan to double aid. However, Germany, Italy and Portugal have expressed reservations, citing their own economic problems. Bono made a direct appeal to German Finance Minister Hans Eichel to free up the money.

“This is a moment in history for Germany to come out in the world,” he said.

Bono and other music artists and movie stars have backed a worldwide campaign, the Global Call to Action against Poverty, aiming to push richer Western governments to boost aid and offer better trade deals to poorer countries.

He is to participate among other stars in the Live 8 five-city concert next month to push governments to find a solution to African poverty.

The singer appealed to leaders to ride the wave of popular support for increased aid. “Don’t blow it,” he told them. “Put down the national flags. Look up from the numbers and look to the future.”

The EU is already the worlds’ biggest aid donor, but only four of its members – Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden – currently meet a 1970 goal for developed nations to commit 0.7% of their gross national income to development aid.

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