“Agenda Setting: Italian development aid”, new MiniDossier by Openpolis

The series MiniDossier adds a new section called “Agenda Setting”. The first number, in partnership with ActionAid, analyzes Italian development aid. An overview of parliamentary work on the issue, and the initiatives around the world.

Neve a priority. The issue has not been very “popular” during the last 4 Governments. Only during the Renzi Government the topic managed enter the Top15 of most dealt with issues, mainly because of a new law that was approved that regulates Italian development aid and policies.

Mission Act. As a further proof of this, less and less time is scheduled in Parliament for the discussion of the annual Bill (Mission Act) meant to re-finance part of the military missions and development aid initiatives. Once a central aspect of the political debate, often causing political parties to clash, now the bill has become a very common practise. For the 2015 installment, the Act was not even worthy of a separated debate, and was included in a more general Bill concerning anti-terrorism norms.

Wide majority. One of the reasons for this is the “bipartisan” nature of the act, that every year receives the support and vote of most parties in Parliament. In particular, during the Berlusconi IV Government the Partito Democratico, while at the opposition, voted in favor of the law. Similarly during the current Renzi Government, Forza Italia sided with the Partito Democratico.

International organization. Development aid initiatives heavily rely on the help of international organizations. In 2013 Italy committed 2.2 billion euros in multilateral aid. The European Union received 1.5 billion euros from Italy (68% of the total). Money meant to carry out initiatives to help developing countries. Second main recipient is the International Development Agency (more than 300 million euros – 13.44%), and regional development banks (172 million euros – 7.56%).

Direct initiatives. There 3.287 Italian aid initiatives around the world. Though Italy is present in 113 countries, some nations have received more money than others.  Albania is the country that received most money in 2013, over 28 million euros. On the “podium” we also have Afghanistan, 27.9 mln, and Ethiopia (18.2 mln).

Less Money. In the last 10 years Italy has constantly decreased the amount of money meant for international aid, going from 4.5 billion euros in 2005, to the current 2.9 billion euros. Italy is therefore moving forward away from the UN target that requires developed countries to bring international aid to 0.7% of their Gross National Income. Currently Italy is at 0.16%.

Military expenditure. While the Mission Act in the past years increased the portion of money meant for international aid, we need to keep in mind that the bill represents only 4% of Italy’s total defence and ODA budget. A complete analysis tells us that over the years the country substantially reduced its budget efforts in international aid. Putting together the total military expenditure and Italy’s total ODA commitments, the portion of money meant for development aid decreased by 3% percentage points.

MiniDossier. “Agenda Setting: Italian development aid” is the seventh number of a series of publication called “MiniDossier”. Through a data journalism approach its goal is to verify, analyze and compare data from different official sources in order to suggest different point of views and tell different stories. To contribute and help this research, it is fundamental to support openpolis through our membership campaign.

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