October 22, 2012 | By Bill Gates
Inspired Leadership in Europe
European governments provide more than 60 percent of foreign aid to developing countries, so last week it was fantastic talking with government leaders there, who said they remain committed, despite difficult economic times in the E.U.
I don’t often get to say that I toured Europe with a rock star, but that’s what happened last week when I spent time in London and Paris with Bono.
In our meetings with government officials, our message was this: Europe’s support of overseas development assistance is saving thousands of lives and is a tremendous example for other donor countries.
In Paris, we met with France’s new president, Francois Hollande and his senior ministers for finance, foreign affairs, and development. It was fantastic to hear President Hollande affirm his dedication to continuing France’s leadership in aid.
In London, we met with the new secretary of state for international development, Justine Greening, who oversees the UK’s Department for International Development, which has been a great development partner. And I can’t say enough about Prime Minister David Cameron’s leadership on aid. Despite tough times, he is supporting increased funding for the UK’s aid budget. And his passion shows when he talks about aid. He puts it in terms of the mothers whose children will survive because of aid. It’s not just about pounds or euros.
I’m optimistic that support from leaders like President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron will encourage other governments in the EU to stay true to the goal of devoting .7% of national budgets to foreign aid.
It was energizing spending time with Bono, who has such a great way of thinking about challenges and communicating with people. And it was fantastic meeting with government leaders who are really trying and succeeding in being effective with aid—all the more remarkable given the tough economic environment in Europe.