European Union Fails To Match U.S. Pledge of $1B to Global Fund, Affirms Commitment To Fighting HIV/AIDS
European Union leaders on Friday at a summit in Greece were unable to agree on pledging about $1 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that would have matched a U.S. pledge and instead "merely" reaffirmed their commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports (Bruni, New York Times, 6/21). The final text of the statement did not include the amount the European Union would pledge in fiscal year 2004, despite a draft conclusion stating that Europe would contribute "up to" one billion euros ($1.17 billion) to the fund next year. Instead, the statement said, "The European Council reaffirms its commitment to combating HIV/AIDS. It calls upon each member state and the [European] Commission to make a substantial contribution on a long-term basis, to the financing of the fund." The final amount will be discussed at the upcoming Global Fund supporters' meeting scheduled for July 16 in Paris, according to Reuters. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that some E.U. members, "Germany and the Netherlands in particular, ... had reservations about using the 'up to' phrase in advance of the donors' meeting."
The specific language in the final statement was omitted despite a push from "E.U. heavyweights" Britain and France, Reuters reports (Grohmann, Reuters, 6/21). British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac on June 16 in a joint letter to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, whose country hosted the summit, 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, 6/20). "Between now and July 16, we hope Blair and Chirac will convince the other countries of the need to contribute at least one billion euros to the Global Fund," Lucy Matthew, the European director of DATA, an aid organization founded by Irish rock star Bono to promote debt relief, aid and trade in Africa, said (Reuters, 6/21).