BRUSSELS: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso vowed Tuesday that Europe would maintain its place as the world's top provider of development aid as he urged the private sector to do more to help.
"If we want to reduce poverty, maintain food security and ensure decent social welfare for all, then we need economic growth. And this is where the private sector can play a critical role," Barroso said at a development forum attended by several African leaders.
"We must evolve towards a closer partnership with the private sector by working for it and with it," he added, calling also for new forms of cooperation with the private sector to sustain growth and create new jobs "while always remembering our final goal is to reduce poverty."
"We are trying to overcome the distinction that used to exist between 'public' aid and 'private' aid because what we need is to gather our forces and our expertise in a practical intelligent way," Barroso said.
With 53 billion euros ($69 billion) of development aid in 2011, the European Union and its members are the world's top donor.
The EU aims to use 0.7 percent of GDP for aid but the economic crisis has prevented the likes of France, Germany and Italy from meeting the target.