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Actions on reproductive and sexual health and rights

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Actions on reproductive and sexual health and rights

The European Union provides a financial framework for actions concerning reproductive and sexual health and rights. In particular, the European Union aims to secure the right of all to good reproductive and sexual health, to enable everyone to have access to a full range of essential care and services and to reduce maternal mortality rates. As of 1 January 2007 these rules have been replaced by the Regulation establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation.


Regulation (EC) No 1567/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 July 2003 on aid for policies and actions on reproductive and sexual health and rights in developing countries


Areas of activity

The Union's approach consists of two closely linked elements: firstly, improving health, and secondly, promoting the recognition of rights and the protection of rights in order to achieve this goal and improve the well-being of the population. In particular, individuals must have the right and the opportunity to protect fully their reproductive and sexual rights and to take decisions on the basis of adequate information in this respect. The protection of rights also means combating practices such as female mutilation, compulsory sterilisation, etc.

The Union's activities focus on men, women and adolescents. In the allocation of the Union's financial assistance, priority will be given to the poorest countries and the most disadvantaged sections of the population of developing countries as well as action that complements and reinforces the policies and capacities of developing countries.

In order to achieve the objective and ensure that the progress made is sustainable, actions in this field must be accompanied by broad-based investments in the social sector in general, covering education, nutrition, gender awareness, etc.

Financial support will be provided for a wide range of activities, such as those which aim to:

  • support and promote policies and actions aimed at securing access for all to a comprehensive range of care and services;
  • ensure that the poorest people in particular have better access to reproductive and sexual health services;
  • provide adolescents with the necessary information, services and skills to protect their health, avoid unwanted pregnancies, etc.;
  • ensure the availability of more effective, affordable and acceptable methods of contraception;
  • promote comprehensive maternal health programmes (antenatal care, etc.);
  • fight against harmful practices such as female genital mutilation;
  • provide emergency obstetric and post-partum care.


The European Union wishes to work in partnership with other actors. The partners eligible for financial assistance from the Union include:

  • administrative authorities at national, regional and local level;
  • local communities;
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs);
  • regional organisations;
  • research institutes and universities;
  • other international donors, such as the United Nations.

It is essential to ensure effective operational coordination among the parties and complementarity of policies. To this end, the systems for the exchange of information and on-the-spot coordination of the implementation of operations are necessary.


The Union's financial support in this area can be used to:

  • fund research activities and programmes for action;
  • provide technical assistance, training and other services;
  • provide supplies and essential medical products;
  • carry out audits, evaluation and monitoring missions;
  • cover investment expenditure.

The Union's aid takes the form of grants and the Union's partners will contribute to the financing of projects according to their means. In certain circumstances, the contribution may be in kind if the partner is either an NGO or a community-based organisation.

The provision of aid may involve co-financing with other donors, in particular with Member States, the United Nations, and international or regional development banks or financial institutions.

The funds granted under the Regulation are allocated on the basis of invitations to tender under equal conditions open to all natural and legal persons that are nationals of the Member States and the developing countries. Participation in invitations to tender may be extended, in exceptional cases, to other third countries.


The financial framework for the implementation of the Regulation for the period from 2003 to 2006 has been set at EUR 73.95 million.


The European Commission is responsible for day-to-day management of implementation of the Regulation and for drafting strategic programming guidelines. It is assisted by a committee and the Member States are consulted and informed. Programming of implementation takes place annually.


The evaluation of the operations implemented under the Regulation is included in the Commission's annual report on EC development policy to Parliament and to the Council. In addition, one year before the expiry of the Regulation, the Commission will submit an independent appraisal report on its implementation to Parliament and to the Council.

The Regulation applies until 31 December 2006.


Sustained improvement of the health and well-being of the populations of developing countries is one of the major objectives of development. Improving reproductive and sexual health and protecting reproductive and sexual rights are important aspects of this objective. The developing countries face many problems in this area, which are obstacles to their development. For example, maternal mortality and morbidity rates are still very high in developing countries.

Progress has been made since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. However, efforts to achieve the international goals in this field must be intensified and accelerated. In 1997, the European Union adopted a Regulation on aid for population policies and programmes in the developing countries with a view to implementing the major elements of the Cairo Action Plan (Regulation (EC) No 1484/97). This Regulation therefore replaces the 1997 Regulation. However, operations that have been decided under the repealed Regulation will continue to be implemented under this Regulation.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1567/2003 [adoption: codecision COD/2002/0052]



Official Journal L 224 of 6.9.2003

Last updated: 03.07.2007