Aid to least developed countries to be maintained - O'Donnell
I have followed media comments made today suggesting that EU funding for the rebuilding of Kosovo might be diverted from European Community programmes in favour of least developed countries especially in Africa. No final decision on the budget source of EC funds for the rebuilding of Kosovo has yet been made. The EC budget for the year 2000 is the subject of continuing negotiations and will not be finalised until later this year.
Ireland, together with the UK, Netherlands and Sweden formally approached the European Commission last month asking it to reverse recent trends showing a decline in the share of EC development funding going to the poorest countries. We have asked the Commission to bring forward proposals to increase the proportion of EU assistance going to the least developed countries.
This is, and will remain, the Irish Government position.
Ireland is one of the few developed countries currently increasing its aid budget. While there are many pressing demands on EU funds in the field of external relations - including our strong obligations to the people of Kosovo - I will strongly oppose any reduction in funding provided for least developed countries.