Cutting Aid in Times of Crisis: Does Securitisation Explain the Pattern of ODA Spending Cuts Among European Countries?

Alexander Brand

Recent data on official development assistance spending shows that the overall political climate of (enforced) austerity measures has left its mark on the resources spent on development policy as well. A number of countries, not least in the European context, have at least temporarily axed their ODA expenditure due to domestic political and economic hardship and concomitant budgetary constraints. While the most severe aid drops as reported by the OECD can be attributed to the ramifications of the global financial crisis, the question remains whether such aid budget cuts have been of discretionary nature. In the paper, I explore on the basis of the available OECD-DAC data whether security-related ODA in particular has been shielded from aid retrenchments in several European country contexts (e.g. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, but also Iceland, the Netherlands, Italy and France). If that has been the case, the logic of securitisation might explain such a pattern of non-discretionary aid budget cuts. In that sense, securitisation usually precipitates a shift in political and societal priorities. While external assistance might quickly be on the chopping block in times of economic hardship, core security-related measures tend to be rather immunised from budget cuts.

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