The EU should retain its development aid commitment of 0.7% of Gross National Income in its multi-annual financial framework (long-run budget) for 2014-2020, Bill Gates told the Development Committee on Tuesday.
Mr Gates stressed that he cites the EU approach to development as an example when urging Chinese leaders or the US Congress to step up their development aid to the same level.
"Whether you like it or not, you are the leader in development aid and it is very unlikely we can do without this example if Europe does not continue its upward push. This is particularly important as you are looking at your 7-year budget. I know you have some difficult trade-offs to make because of the economic situation, but the money you devote to development will have a huge impact in the world", said Mr Gates.
Speaking as co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Gates offered "living proof" that development aid "works" to save lives in the world's poorest countries. "I think this picture is more beautiful than any European anthem", he said, presenting a graph showing that child deaths have fallen from 20 million to under 8 million in the past 50 years.
Mr Gates also noted that vaccines are an inexpensive way to save millions of lives, citing a 99% reduction in polio cases since 1988.
MEPs were almost unanimous in their praise of this presentation, although some criticized the Gates Foundation's links to Monsanto, a biotech company that is trying to introduce hybrid seeds in Africa.
Catherine Grèze (Greens, FR), asked "we know that the majority of African countries are against GMOs. Is it true that one of the objectives of research centre financed by foundation is to pave the way to change the laws so that cotton GMOs can be introduced in Kenya, even knowing that one of the major concerns of developing countries is losing control of their own seeds?"
Mr Gates replied that Monsanto was currently working on a project to develop royalty-free drought resistant maize, and that since all African leaders are certainly against starvation and malnutrition, it was about time that they looked into new tools. "Seeds that are dramatically more drought resistant will benefit thousands of lives", he insisted.
Parliament's President Martin Schulz said he was "deeply impressed and fascinated" by the work of the Gates Foundation and stressed that EU has a moral duty to show international solidarity, given that it accounts 8% of the global population, but 30% of global wealth.
"We have to deliver on our promises if we do not want to risk our credibility and I hope that, irrespective of political colours in this house, Parliament will stand shoulder to shoulder with the aims of Gates Foundation", said Mr Schulz.