European Union Set To Pledge $1 Billion to Global Fund, Matching Proposed U.S. ContributionEuropean Union members today were set to pledge $1 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, matching the United States' pledge of up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004, Reuters reports. E.U. members are in Greece attending a three-day summit, which is scheduled to end tomorrow(Reuters, 6/20). British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac on Monday in a joint letter to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, whose country currently holds the E.U. presidency, called on E.U. member nations to contribute $1 billion a year to the fund. Last month, President Bush signed into law a global AIDS bill (HR 1298) that authorizes $3 billion a year for five years to international HIV/AIDS programs, with up to $1 billion in FY 2004 going to the Global Fund. However, the amount of funding actually appropriated may be less than $1 billion and is contingent upon the contributions of other countries. Under the measure, the United States can contribute up to $1 billion to the fund only if that amount totals no more than one-third of the fund's total contributions. Therefore, in order for the total $1 billion to be appropriated, other nations must contribute more money (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/19). The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the House Appropriations Committee is considering $1.77 billion in cuts to the foreign aid portion of the FY 2004 budget, which could affect funding for the AIDS initiative (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/19).
According to a draft final summit statement, the E.U. leaders call for "each member state and the (European Commission) to make a substantial contribution, on a long-term basis, to the financing of the fund so that it will receive" up to $1 billion from the European Union next year, AFP/Business Day reports (AFP/Business Day, 6/20). Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Luxembourg and Belgium are the only E.U. member countries to make separate commitments -- totaling $338 million -- to the Global Fund this year. The European Union in 2002 contributed $133 million to the fund, but it has not yet pledged funds for this year, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 6/20). Global Fund officials have said that, despite pledges totaling $4.6 billion through 2008, the fund is still $3 billion short of covering grants through the end of 2004 (Reuters, 6/20).