Brussels: Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has told European lawmakers here not to cut aid to poor countries despite the economic and budgetary problems facing EU countries.
"Even in these challenging economic times, there is no excuse for cutting aid to the world's poorest," Gates said in a speech to the European Parliament yesterday.
"Europe has a choice to make. Cut investments dedicated to helping the hungry, those with HIV, or children who need vaccines, or continue to work in partnership to increase the impact of our investments and build on tremendous progress."
The co-founder of software giant Microsoft praised the European Union whose support in health and development he said has been greater than that of the United States.
"European aid has had a tremendous impact on global health and development," he said. "I urge Europe to keep its promise to the world's poorest."
Gates is now president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is active in aid projects in the world's poorest countries, especially in Africa.
EU development aid reached a record level of 53.8 billion euros (USD 70 billion) in 2010.
The European Commission recently decided to refocus aid on the poorest countries to the detriment of some emerging economies like China, Brazil and India.