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A Statistical Analysis of EU Member States' Aid Policies

Joren Verschaeve, Steven Lannoo, Jan Orbie & Sarah Delputte

The oft-heard statement that the European Union is the world's largest provider of aid, referring to the collective aid disbursements of the EU member states and the EU institutions, implicitly suggests the existence of a common 'European' development policy. On the one hand, studies have suggested that EU member states' aid policies have indeed converged since the early 2000s. On the other hand, existing literature continues to point to divergences between the 'Northern' and 'Southern' EU donors. However, the question of the Europeanization of EU member state aid policies has not been addressed systematically and comparatively. Therefore, the central aim of this paper is to analyze whether and to what extent Europeanization has taken place between the different EU donors between 1990 and 2013. Methodologically, we conduct an individual growth curve analysis, which allows to detect and describe changes over time, based on 32 indicators (e.g. untying of aid, budget support aid, fragmentation degree) for the EU as well as non-EU OECD-DAC donors. The data for these indicators are retrieved from databases of the OECD-DAC, the Centre for Global Development CDI-scores and other sources. Our (so far provisional) conclusions show evidence of a significant convergence between EU member states aid policies over 1990-2013, even if North-South divisions within the EU continue to exist. However, we also find that despite some notable exceptions the observed convergence cannot be seen as Europeanization in the sense that very similar evolutions are observed in non-EU member states over time. This suggests that international trends have been more influential on EU donors' aid policies than EU-related factors.

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