France and Italy have fallen badly behind on pledges to boost their development aid and should follow the example of Britain, which has stuck to pledges despite austerity measures, Bob Geldof said on Tuesday.
The rock star-turned-aid advocate, in Paris with the Africa Progress Panel to discuss development goals with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said budget cuts were not an excuse to flout pledges made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005.
You're right, it's terrible. It's exceptionally bad, Geldof said when asked about France's performance on the goals.
They've fallen behind, so far behind in fact that they're the worst performer in the G8 except Italy, which is catastrophic and useless, he said.
In 2005, European Union members at the Group of Eight economic powers pledged to commit 0.56 percent of their gross domestic product, collectively, toward foreign development aid by 2010, and raise that to 0.7 percent of GDP by 2015.
Many of the countries that were hit hard by the economic crisis in 2008-9 have said budget shortfalls have made it tough to meet aid targets. But Britain has enshrined its development targets into law and is nearing its 0.7 percent goal.
Figures for French aid in 2010 were unavailable, but Geldof pointed to a $727 million drop in aid for sub-Saharan Africa between 2008 and 2009 as a sign that France was falling behind -- although not as badly as Italy, the worst in class.
Both countries should follow the example of Britain, Geldof added. The British economy is in a worse state than the French but the British have put these goals into law ... I would like the French president to do this.
Geldof and other panel members, including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, met Sarkozy to push for African interests to be taken into account at meetings of the Group of 20 economic powers, presided over this year by France.
Robert Rubin, treasury secretary under former U.S. President Bill Clinton said the prospect of countries meeting their development goals through innovative financing, one of France's objectives for the G8 meeting, was unrealistic.
The politics are going to be extremely difficult, he said, adding that he had advised Sarkozy to set up a task force to explore the idea with other members of the G20. He seemed receptive to that idea.