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Document 52019DC0037

REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions in 2017

COM/2019/37 final

Brussels, 31.1.2019

COM(2019) 37 final


Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions in 2017

{SWD(2019) 12 final}


The European Union (EU) promotes a joined-up approach, bringing together all available instruments from the EU and its Member States to work towards a more peaceful and prosperous world. In 2017, Europe and the world continued to be confronted with significant challenges. The EU responded comprehensively, using the entire breadth of its policies and tools, spanning diplomatic, security, financial, trade, development actions, and humanitarian aid. Crisis response measures adopted comprised support to all major ongoing crises worldwide, including activities in the ten ‘least peaceful’ countries 1 .

EU as a Stronger Global Actor

During 2017, full implementation of the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) on foreign and security policy 2 started. The EUGS sets out EU core interests and principles for engagement and provides a vision for a more credible, responsible and responsive EU in the world.

The EU continued to tackle existing high levels of vulnerability due to humanitarian crisis, drought and insecurity, funding operations for more than EUR 2.2 billion in over 90 countries outside the EU. The EU and its Member States remain the world's largest donor of humanitarian aid.

The EU and its Member States are the largest donor of Official Development Assistance (ODA), providing more than half of ODA globally. In 2017, the European Commission alone disbursed EUR 13.34 billion in ODA.

Implementation of the EUGS in security and defence was swift and substantial with work on a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) 3 , the establishment of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) 4 , the implementation of the European Defence Action Plan and the EU-NATO Joint Declaration, and the agreement on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) 5 .

The EUGS acknowledges the importance of an international system based on multilateralism. The EU and the United Nations (UN) are indispensable partners to deliver peace and security. The ground breaking joint trilateral African Union (AU)-EU-UN work on Libya and migration aims to pave the way for enhanced cooperation in the wider peace and security agenda. The support provided to the G5 Sahel Joint Force also shows the importance of investing in global-regional security partnerships.

European Consensus on Development, implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

In June 2017, the new European Consensus on Development 6 was signed in a Joint Statement by the Maltese Presidency, on behalf of the Council and Member States, the Parliament, the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The new Consensus is the EU's response to global trends and challenges in international cooperation and development aligning EU external action to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Structured around the '5 Ps' framing the 2030 Agenda (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership), the Consensus puts forward a balanced and integrated approach to the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

External Investment Plan

In 2017, the EU’s ambitious External Investment Plan (EIP) 7 started implementation, following the entry into force of the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) regulation in September. With an input of EUR 4.1 billion (EUR 2.6 billion for blending and EUR 1.5 billion for guarantees) it aims to mobilise a total investment of EUR 44 billion in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood with five ‘Investment Windows’ covering: Sustainable Energy and Connectivity; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Financing; Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Entrepreneurs and Agroindustry; Sustainable Cities; and Digital for Development.

The adoption of the EIP represents a watershed moment for EU external action by catalysing private sector involvement to produce results in the context of wider global policy objectives.

Working better with EU Member States

The European Consensus on Development places Joint Programming at the centre of the EU’s effort to work better together with Member States to implement the 2030 Agenda. By bringing together resources and capacities, Joint Programming increases the collective impact and visibility of European development cooperation and external action.

In May 2017, an independent evaluation of EU Joint Programming processes 8 concluded that the exercise has increased coordination among the EU, Member States and other development partners, and enhanced the EU and Member States’ voice and leverage at country level.

At the end of 2017, 23 Joint Programming documents existed, of which seven were completed during the year. A Joint Programming process was ongoing in an additional 36 partner countries.

Policy Coherence for Development

Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) requires the EU to take account of development cooperation objectives in all policy implementations that are likely to affect developing countries.

In 2017, the Commission continued promoting PCD, including embedding it in the European Consensus on Development, and highlighted its important contribution to achieving the SDGs.



2017 was an important year for the Strategic Partnership with Africa. A Joint Communication for renewed impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership 9 was adopted in May, followed by the 5th African Union-EU Summit held in Abidjan in November. Preparations began for a new relationship with the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) to deliver a ‘post-Cotonou’ partnership among equals that is modern, political and targeted.

During 2017, 40 new programmes were approved in the three regions covered by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (EUTF for Africa).

Enlargement Region

A key political event in 2017 was President Juncker’s State of the Union address 10 , which reconfirmed and strengthened the EU's unequivocal support for the enlargement perspective of the Western Balkans.

European Neighbourhood

In 2017, the EU continued to roll out its revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) to achieve common goals of stabilising Neighbourhood countries and developing more tailor-made partnerships. Revised Association Agendas were concluded with Georgia and Moldova, and the Association Agreement with Ukraine, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, entered into force. Comprehensive and Enhanced Cooperation Agreement was concluded and signed with Armenia. The Eastern Partnership Summit in November provided guidance for future regional cooperation based on the ‘20 deliverables for 2020’ 11 .

EU programmes continued to support the economic, social, cultural and political development of the countries of the Southern Neighbourhood, including those hosting refugees from Syria.

Partnership priorities for 2017-2020 were agreed with Algeria and Egypt, while progress was made on identifying similar joint priorities with Armenia, Tunisia, Palestine, Azerbaijan and Belarus.

A Joint Communication on developments in the Neighbourhood and implementation of the ENP review 12 was adopted in May 2017.

Asia, Central Asia and the Pacific

Both the 19th EU-China Summit in June 2017 and the EU-India Summit in October demonstrated shared commitment to address global and regional issues such as climate change and security threats. The EU signed political agreements on wide ranging areas of cooperation with Australia and New Zealand during 2017.

The EU was intensely engaged to address the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh and Myanmar and stepped up its humanitarian efforts, co-hosting the UN Pledging Conference in October and making the largest donor pledge.

Latin America and the Caribbean

2017 saw progress in negotiations with the South American trade bloc MERCOSUR on a bi-regional Association Agreement and the provisional application of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba in November. At the beginning of the year, the Multi-Party Trade Agreement with Ecuador entered into force.

In 2017, the EU looked to move the focus of its cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean to a more diversified model giving a prominent role to investment, research and innovation, education and the digital agenda.


Human development

Eradicating poverty (SDG 1), tackling inequalities and discrimination (SDG 10) and leaving no-one behind are at the heart of EU development policy.

Contributions to global initiatives, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and Education cannot Wait, ensured the EU played a significant role in shaping the international policy agenda in health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4). These initiatives have helped 11 million people with life-saving HIV-treatment, treated 17.4 million cases of tuberculosis and distributed 795 million bed nets to prevent malaria. Through EU support to the GPE, in 2015, 72 million more children were in primary school in partner countries compared to 2002.

Through the Erasmus+ programme, the EU helped partner countries to enhance employability of individuals. In 2017, over 40 500 individual mobility grants were awarded to students and staff, more than half of which benefited Neighbourhood and Enlargement countries. In addition, some 350 international participations in Horizon 2020 collaborative projects were supported with around EUR 40 million of EU funding.

Renewed emphasis was placed on the cultural dimension of development and international cooperation following the adoption of the Council conclusions of May 2017 on an ‘EU Strategic Approach to International Cultural Relations’ 13 .

Gender equality and women’s empowerment

The EU and its Member States continue to be global leaders in promoting gender equality and women and girls' empowerment (SDG 5). The first report on the implementation of the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 14 was published in 2017 15 .

The Commission monitors closely developments on gender equality and the fight against gender-based violence in the Enlargement Region. These issues are also addressed during accession negotiations and the Stabilisation and Association Process reported in the 2017 Enlargement package 16 .

Spotlight on gender-based-violence

2017 marked the launch of the Spotlight Initiative 17 , a new EU-UN partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. This initiative, backed by EUR 500 million from the EU, aims to achieve transformational change at the regional level, concentrating efforts in Asia, the Pacific, Africa (particularly Sub-Saharan Africa), Latin America and the Caribbean.

Migration, forced displacement and asylum

Migration and mobility remained high on the EU agenda with the focus shifting to the Central Mediterranean route as the main challenge and Libya remained the main country of departure towards the EU. The Facility for Refugees in Turkey continued to address the needs of refugees and host communities in the country with the Commission committing EUR three billion in 2017.

In the Western Balkans, the EU has a leading role in bringing together responses on refugee and migration related issues.

Mixed Migration Management in Libya

In 2017, the Commission responded quickly to the recommendations of the Joint Communication ‘Central Mediterranean Route – Managing flows, saving lives 18 ,’ published in January. A EUR 90 million programme was rapidly developed to provide protection and assistance to those in need in Libya and support to stabilise host communities.

Food and Nutrition Security

Global hunger, food and nutrition insecurity was on the rise in 2017 with an additional 38 million people suffering from hunger. The 'Global Report on Food Crises' 19 launched in March reported over 108 million people in food crisis, and several hotspots at risk of famine.

As a contribution to SDG 2, EU efforts resulted in targeted thematic and bilateral support, especially to address fragility and emergencies in a range of countries with EUR 140 million allocated in synergy with EUR 750 million to help avoid famines in four countries considered at risk: Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and Nigeria.


Climate change

Climate change (SDG 13) continues to be a major threat affecting global sustainable development. In 2017, the Caribbean region was struck by several intense hurricanes illustrating the impact of more frequent extreme weather events. The EU supports the Global Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction initiative that carried out Post-Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNAs) and helped deliver rapid support to the Caribbean after the hurricanes struck.

Climate change adaptation is the top priority for most developing countries, in particular for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the EU’s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA+) flagship initiative has continued to focus on them as priority beneficiaries.

The EU also engaged with G20 countries to support the implementation of the National Determined Contributions made at the COP 21 summit.

Environment and sustainable management of natural resources

Natural capital, including productive land, water resources, forests, fish stocks and biodiversity are the backbone of many partner countries' economies and contribute enormously to livelihoods. The protection and sustainable management of natural capital is essential to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda (including SDGs 6, 12, 14 and 15).

The EU engaged strongly at the 3rd session of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi in December under the theme ‘Towards a pollution-free planet’. The EU was also active in protecting oceans with participation at the UN Oceans Conference for the implementation of SDG 14 in June 2017 in New York and the organisation of the ‘Our Oceans’ Conference in Valletta in October.

With the livelihood of 1.6 billion people dependent on forests, the EU is active in sustainable forest management. Progress has been made in implementing the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) 20 . Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) have been concluded with Honduras and Guyana. In 2017, the EU also successfully led the facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership.

Environment and natural resources in the Neighbourhood

Environment and sustainable management of natural resources is a priority in the Neighbourhood South and East. While supporting initiatives including water resources management, depollution and transboundary cooperation, EU action has shifted towards establishing circular, low-carbon and resource efficient economies.

Sustainable energy

A Staff Working Document on 'Empowering Development' 21 issued in December 2017, showed how cooperation on sustainable energy contributes to the implementation of the European Consensus on Development. The EU launched actions to ‘Energise Africa’ 22 in 2017.

In the Eastern Neighbourhood, the EU4Energy project supported reforms in the energy sector. At the Western Balkan summit in Trieste in July 2017, a connectivity package was approved with EUR 194 million of EU grants leveraging investments of EUR 500 million for regional projects to improve transport and energy links.

Renewable energy in Africa

At the end of 2017 Zambia, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria had allocated a total of EUR 85 million to the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) for projects to provide connection to electricity to 452 000 new households, generate an additional 88 MW of new renewable energy, and reduce emissions by approximately 200 000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year.


Working with the private sector

The EU implemented a new Private Sector Engagement 23 approach to achieve sustainable and inclusive development in 2017. The Sustainable Business for Africa (SB4A) platform concept, linked to the EIP, can create a forum where the private sector can identify investment constraints (contributing to SDG 8).

The EU adopted a new Aid for Trade strategy in November 2017 ‘Achieving prosperity through trade and investment’ 24 building on ten years of EU interventions. It puts the emphasis on supporting partner countries and their industries to transition to higher value-added products and services and to tap the potential of intra-regional trade as well as trade with the EU.

Agricultural growth

Two-thirds of the world’s poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and many developing countries remain highly dependent on trade in just a few commodities.

The EU supports land governance actions in about 40 countries with a total budget of almost EUR 240 million. In Peru and Honduras, EU funded actions protect the land rights of indigenous peoples and secure basic assets for them (contributing to SDG 2).

AgriFI boosts beans

In 2017, several programmes under the Agriculture Financing Initiative (AgriFI) 25 were launched including a value chain analysis of the green bean sector in Kenya, which showed that the investment supported the livelihoods of about 52 000 smallholder farmers.

Infrastructures, cities and digitalisation

Progress towards the 2030 Agenda requires building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation (SDG9).

The EU helped coordinate the Joint Africa-EU infrastructure agenda and engaged in the Board of the Africa Transport Policy Programme supporting policy and strategy for African Governments and Regional Economic Communities.

Rapid urbanisation, particularly in Asia and Africa, poses major development challenges. 2017 saw the development of the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme 26 that shares urban best practice between EU cities and cities in strategic partner countries, such as India and China, and the inclusion under the EIP of a specific investment window for ‘Sustainable Cities’ (SDG 11).

The EU’s Covenant of Mayors in Neighbourhood East

The EU’s Covenant of Mayors (CoM) initiative supports municipalities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to implement energy and climate commitments. By providing targeted grants to projects, the EU contributes to their target to cut CO2 emissions by 30 % by 2030. More than 300 municipalities in the Eastern Partnership region have signed up to the CoM.

Operationalisation of digital actions envisaged in the SWD on ‘Digital4Development’ 27 for 2017 included fibre optic infrastructure projects, improving security and resilience of critical information infrastructure and networks, and fostering universal accessible and affordable broadband across Africa.


Democracy, human rights, good governance

The EU reaffirmed its unconditional support to democracy, human rights, and good governance worldwide (SDG 16), while confirming its central global role through the dedicated European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

During 2017 the implementation of Democracy and Human Rights action plans continued with a first implementation report in June 2017 28 . Support to EU Delegations was provided via two facilities: Supporting Democracy and Media4Democracy, aiming to build capacity in the areas of democracy support and, respectively, freedom of expression. A global EU4Democracy Campaign was conducted in September.

Fundamentals First for Enlargement

The ‘fundamentals first’ approach remains one of the principles of Enlargement policy ensuring that countries prioritise reforms in areas such as rule of law and fundamental rights, democratic institutions and public administration reform early in the accession process.

In March, the revised Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child 29 were adopted setting out the EU's overarching strategy and aims to ensure that EU policies and actions support the strengthening of partner countries' systems, including child protection.

Support to Justice Reform in Tunisia

In 2017, the EU renewed its support to the justice sector in Tunisia by adopting the third phase of the Programme d’Appui à la Réforme de la Justice III (EUR 70 million) in cooperation with the Council of Europe. The programme will reinforce the independence and impartiality of the judiciary while expanding access to justice for citizens.

Resilience and fragility

The 2017 Joint Communication on a strategic approach to resilience’ 30 enabled the EU to adopt an extended multi sectorial commitment on resilience. A pilot process in six countries (Chad, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda) tested a broader humanitarian/ development/ peace nexus.

During 2017, work on resilience and tackling fragilities focused on four areas: reinforcement of the resilience framework; the development of an Integrated Approach to external conflict and crises built on the existing Comprehensive Approach; reinforcing the importance of resilience in conflict and crises; and support to the International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and State building (IDPS) led by the fragile countries themselves.


2017 has once again demonstrated the key role of the EU in the field of security. The amendment to the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) regulation, Capacity Building in support of Security and Development (CBSD) 31 , came into force in December 2017. This major policy development allows for EU engagement with military actors in pursuit of development objectives under clearly defined circumstances.

The IcSP contributed to accompanying peaceful political transitions, such as those in Kenya or The Gambia, and continued support to the Colombian Peace Process as well as the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, mediation initiatives in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, between Tebou and Touareg communities in Niger and between Guatemala and Belize. New actions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo 32 , Libya, Niger and Somalia directly complemented the work of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions.

Combined with ongoing programmes in the Central African Republic, Georgia, Mali and Ukraine, the IcSP directly complemented 12 of the 16 ongoing CSDP missions.

CSDP missions worldwide

The 16 CSDP missions and operations include three executive military operations (Op SOPHIA, Op ATALANTA and Op EUFOR ALTHEA) and three non-executive military training missions (EU Training Missions Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia). There is also one executive civilian mission (EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) Kosovo), one civilian monitoring mission (EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) Georgia), a confidence building measure (CBM) mission (European Union Integrated Border Management Assistance (EUBAM) Rafah), four capacity building missions EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS), EU Capacity Building Missions (CAPs) Somalia, Mali and Niger, and two advisory missions (EUAM Ukraine and EUAM Iraq).

The Council conclusions on the EU's external action on counter-terrorism, adopted in June 2017 33 further strengthen the network of counter-terrorism experts in EU Delegations and achieve greater coherence between internal and external actions in security by strengthening the role of Justice and Home Affairs agencies regarding third countries.

On EU-NATO cooperation, the implementation of the first common set of proposals (42 actions) agreed under the Joint Declaration of July 2016, was taken up. In December 2017, the two Councils endorsed a common set of new proposals consisting of 32 additional actions and expanding cooperation to key areas such as counter-terrorism, women, peace and security and military mobility.


The EU supports stabilisation actions in Libya, focusing on rehabilitation of key infrastructure, humanitarian demining, and the building of a national consensus through mediation support.

The ‘Elements for an EU strategy for Syria: Reinforcing efforts to build peace’ 34  was adopted in March 2017 setting the core objectives for EU action to help bring an end to the war and promote a genuine political transition.

Nuclear safety

Through its multidimensional approach addressing nuclear safety, health, the environment, and related issues, the Instrument for Nuclear Safety (INSC) programme contributes to many key areas of the European Consensus on Development, including key priority actions in Ukraine, Central Asia and Iran.

Peace & prosperity in Iran

The INSC has been important in putting the diplomatic agreement with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), into practice, which is a milestone for international non-proliferation and a strong contribution to peace in the region. The first project supporting the Iranian Nuclear Regulatory Authority was initiated in July 2017.


Cooperation with civil society, donor community and international organisations

A central element for the success of the 2030 Agenda is to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development (SDG17).

The EU and the UN are indispensable partners to deliver peace and security. In 2017, the EU continued to be engaged in development-related UN processes, including the High-Level Political Forum and the Financing for Development Forum.

The EU has further strengthened its engagement with civil society organisations (CSOs). Twenty-three Framework Partnership Agreements have been implemented with civil society platforms. A Report on EU engagement with Civil Society 35 was published in 2017.

Several development policy dialogues took place in 2017 with non-EU donors including Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the US.

In 2017, the Partnership Instrument (PI) continued articulating and implementing the external dimension of internal policies, interconnecting different policy areas. Actions cover global challenges like climate change and environmental protection (such as clean energy); the international dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy 36 ; improving access to markets and boosting trade, investment and business opportunities for EU companies (with particular emphasis on SMEs); and public diplomacy.

Throughout 2017, the Commission continued to engage in close collaboration with international partners such as the G7, G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.


The European Commission monitors and reports on the results of EU-funded actions with partners across the world through the EU International Cooperation and Development Results Framework.

EU-funded projects and programmes that ended between mid-2016 and mid-2017 contributed to the following selection of results:


1 492 000 women of reproductive age and children under five years old benefited from nutrition-related programmes

12 437 000 children were enrolled in primary education, 3 377 000 children were enrolled in secondary education

3 096 000 births were attended by skilled health personnel, reducing maternal mortality

136 000 000 insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed, preventing the spread of malaria 37


16 140 000 hectares of protected areas were managed, ensuring biological diversity and preserving natural heritage

3 438 000 people were able to access to sustainable energy services


757 000 people secured tenure of land, building up their assets to enjoy sustainable livelihoods through agriculture

1 844 000 people were provided with access to all-season roads

166 000 people benefited from Vocational and Educational Training or skills development programmes improving employability


309 000 people benefited directly from legal aid, ensuring equality before the law

1 420 000 people benefited directly from programmes supporting civilian post-conflict peace building and conflict prevention


 Global Peace Index 2017, Institute for Economics and Peace









JOIN(2017) 17 final, 4.5.2017




JOIN(2017) 18 final, 18.5.2017


Joint Communication "Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations", JOIN(2016) 29 final, 8.6.2016; Council conclusions 9635/17.


Joint SWD(2015)182 final, 21.09.2015 “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020”, followed by Council conclusions 13201/15, 26.10.2015





JOIN(2017) 4 final, 25.1.2017




SWD(2017) 482 final, 15.12.2017




COM(2017) 667 final, 13.11.2017




SWD(2017) 157 final, 02.05.2017


SWD(2017) 254 final, 27.6.2017



JOIN(2017) 21 final, 7.6.2017


Regulation (EU) 2017/2306 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017


This designation is without prejudice on status, and is in line with the UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence



 JOIN(2017) 11 final, 14.3.2017




The EU’s ongoing support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria contributed to this result.