Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Development policy of the European Community

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

This summary is archived.
Languages and formats available
HTML html ES html DA html DE html EL html EN html FR html IT html NL html PT html FI html SV
Multilingual display
Miscellaneous information
  • Archived: true

Development policy of the European Community

The statement sets out a clear and coherent strategy for the European Community's development cooperation policy with a view to maximising the Community value-added in this area, improving the quality and impact of its actions and responding to the new global challenges.


Statement by the Council and the Commission of 20 November 2000 on the European Community's development policy, based on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 26 April 2000 on the same subject.


1. Background The question of development is more crucial today than ever. In sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, over 40% of the population are still living below the poverty line.

The European Union provides half of all public aid to the developing countries and in many cases is one of their main trading partners. The increase in the number of its external partners, the introduction of new instruments and increased financial resources have reinforced the need to draw up a clearer and more consistent strategy within the framework of international coordination efforts.

The statement follows on from the Commission communication of April 2000 which is the starting point for a process of renewal. The declaration sets out the final strategy adopted by both the Council and the Commission.

It also forms part of the efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Union's external action.

2. Principles and objectives

Underlying principle The Council and the Commission reaffirm the Community's solidarity with developing countries, in the framework of a partnership which respects human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and the sound management of public affairs.

Main objective The main aim of the Community's development policy is to reduce poverty with a view to its eventual eradication.

Poverty, which includes the concept of vulnerability, results from many factors. The Community is therefore determined to support poverty reduction strategies which integrate these many dimensions and are based on the analysis of constraints and opportunities in individual developing countries. These strategies must contribute to strengthening democracy, to the consolidation of peace and the prevention of conflict, to gradual integration into the world economy, to more awareness of the social and environmental aspects with a view to sustainable development, to equality between men and women and to public and private capacity-building.

The resources available for development aid will be allocated in accordance with their impact on the reduction of poverty. The least developed countries require special consideration.

Primacy of the role of the developing countries Ownership of their strategies by the partner countries is the key to the success of development policies. With that in mind, the wide-ranging participation of all segments of society should be encouraged and prime importance should be given to political dialogue with the partner countries.

3. Refocusing Community activities Community activities should be refocused on the following six areas:

  • link between trade and developmentTrade policies must be compatible with the countries' development objectives and strategies and their economic situation (fragile economies, etc.). Preferential access to markets should also be improved;
  • regional integration and cooperation This should facilitate integration into the world economy, conflict resolution and the resolution of cross-border problems, for example in the field of the environment;
  • support for macro-economic policies and promotion of equitable access to social servicesThis includes initiatives to relieve debt and sectoral support in the fields of health and education in particular;
  • transport Efficient transport systems are essential to economic and social development and to access to basic social services;
  • food security and sustainable and rural developmentThese are an important component of the poverty reduction strategies. A closer link must be sought between emergency food aid and long-term development in the context of food security;
  • enhanced institutional capacity-building The EC's action is more neutral than action by the Member States. As a result, it is well placed to play a significant role in promoting good governance, combating corruption and ensuring respect for the rule of law.

Horizontal aspects The horizontal issues must be incorporated in all aspects of development cooperation. Five main topics must be promoted:

  • human rights;
  • equality between women and men;
  • children's rights;
  • protection of the environment.

Conflict prevention and crisis management also require systematic attention.

4. Enhancing cooperation, coordination and complementarity The links between the various actors, particularly the Community and the Member States, must be strengthened in order to maximise the impact of the European Union's development aid.

The Community and its Member States will coordinate their policies and programmes in order to maximise their impact. Better complementarity and coordination in terms of division of work will be sought both within the Union and with other donors, in particular in the context of country strategies. To ensure consistency, the objectives of Community development policy will be taken into greater account in the conduct of other common policies.

The Commission has already initiated a reshaping of its external aid management by introducing a new programming process and by promoting the devolution (déconcentration) and decentralisation of aid management. Simplification of the Financial Regulation and a better allocation of human resources, as requested by the Commission, are also necessary.

The contribution made by a broad spectrum of participants from civil society to Community policy is already recognised in the framework of the new partnership with the ACP countries. Implementation of an approach that encourages greater participation by non-governmental organisations, economic operators, social partners and the private sector will also be encouraged in the context of the Union's relations with the other developing countries. The Community will seek to reinforce the partnership with civil society, both in Europe and in the developing countries, and to support capacity-building among non-State players in the partner countries in order to facilitate their participation in the dialogue on strategies and in the implementation of cooperation programmes.

5. Implementation and follow-up The new strategy must be implemented as soon as possible. The Commission should therefore prepare an action programme for this purpose and submit to the European Parliament and to the Council an annual report on the progress made.


Joint declaration by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on the development policy of the European Union, entitled The European Consensus [Official Journal C 46/01 of 24 February 2006]. The "European Consensus" is the new statement on European Union development policy. For the first time in fifty years of cooperation, it defines the framework of common principles within which the EU and its Member States will each implement their development policies in a spirit of complementarity.

Last updated: 20.09.2007