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EU development policy: an agenda for change

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EU development policy: an agenda for change


European Commission communication (COM(2011) 637 final) – Increasing the impact of EU development policy: an agenda for change



This European Commission policy paper presents ideas as to how the EU can help developing countries eradicate poverty, which is the primary objective of the EU’s development policy.


As the world’s population continues to grow, more action is needed to tackle challenges such as conflict prevention, security, environmental protection and climate change and to deliver global public benefits such as food security, access to water and sanitation, energy security and migration.

One of the 2 overriding aims is to support the change needed in partner countries (developing countries that have agreements with the EU) to speed up progress towards poverty reduction and the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (which, from 2016, have been replaced by Sustainable Development Goals).

The Commission wants the Agenda for Change to lead to a number of improvements, including an increased volume and share of EU aid to the countries most in need and where the EU can have a real impact (including vulnerable states).

The other aim is to help create growth in developing countries so they have the means to lift themselves out of poverty. Aid will therefore target particular areas:

  • social protection, health, education and jobs;
  • the business environment, regional integration and global markets;
  • sustainable agriculture and energy.

One of the key ideas is to have a differentiated EU approach to aid allocation and partnerships in order to deliver resources to where they are most needed, to combat poverty. In practice, this means allocating EU funds for development cooperation according to

  • a country’s needs,
  • its capacities to generate other sources of finance (e.g. to levy taxes) and
  • its performance in areas such as education or health.

The Commission also proposes that EU countries and the Commission jointly prepare their strategies and programmes and divide better amongst themselves the task of ensuring the aid delivered by the EU is more effective.

Another idea is to explore innovative ways of financing development, such as by ‘blending’ (i.e. combining grants and loans).


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Increasing the impact of EU development policy: an Agenda for Change (COM(2011) 637 final of 13.10.2011)

last update 27.01.2016