EU development policy

 

SUMMARY OF:

Article 4 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

Article 21(2)(d) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)

EU DEVELOPMENT POLICY IN THE TREATIES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

Article 4 TFEU gives the EU the competence to carry out activities and conduct a common policy in the area of development cooperation. EU countries may also exercise their own competences in the field.

The primary objective of EU development policy, as laid down in Article 208 TFEU, is the reduction and, in the long term, eradication of poverty. Article 208 also requires the EU and EU countries to honour commitments made in the context of the United Nations (UN) and other competent international organisations.

EU development policy also pursues the objectives of EU external action, in particular those set out in Article 21(2)(d) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) of fostering the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of developing countries, with the primary aim of eradicating poverty.

In line with the objectives set out in Article 21(2) TEU, development policy also contributes, among other things, to supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights, to preserving peace and preventing conflict, to improving the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources, to assisting populations, countries and regions confronting natural or man-made disasters, and to promoting an international system based on stronger multilateral cooperation and good global governance.

KEY POINTS

Global commitments

The EU as a stronger global actor

The EU seeks to bring together all available means from the EU and the EU countries to work towards a more peaceful and prosperous world. The full implementation of the EU global strategy (EUGS) on foreign and security policy started in 2017. This strategy sets out the EU’s core interests and principles for engagement and provides a vision for a more credible, responsible and responsive EU in the world. The UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be cross-cutting elements in the implementation of the EUGS.

The EU and EU countries together are the largest donor of official development assistance (ODA). The European Development Fund (EDF) is the EU’s main instrument for providing development aid to 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and to overseas countries and territories under the Cotonou Agreement.

Through its Development Cooperation Instrument, the EU aims to reduce poverty in developing countries, as well as to promote sustainable economic, social and environmental development, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and good governance.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the European Consensus on Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs, adopted by the 193 UN member states in 2015, is the new global framework to eradicate poverty and achieve worldwide sustainable development by 2030.

In line with the EUGS, the EU in its 2017 New European Consensus on Development sets out the principles for EU institutions and EU countries in their cooperation with developing countries towards contributing to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, agreed by the UN in 2015, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The consensus aligns the EU’s development action to the SDGs and is structured around the 5 Ps framing the 2030 agenda (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership).

Financing for sustainable development

The EU is party to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, an agreement reached by a partnership of 193 UN member countries at the UN Third International Conference on Financing for Development. It is an integral part of the 2030 agenda and sets a new paradigm for implementation through effective use of financial and non-financial means and by placing domestic actions and sound policies at the forefront. It action areas include:

External Investment Plan

To help achieve the SDGs and leverage both public and private investment, the EU set up the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and the EFSD Guarantee in 2017. These are part of the EU External Investment Plan (EIP) which addresses the sustainable development challenges faced in Sub-Saharan Africa and also transition through reforms in the EU’s Neighbourhood region.

Post-Cotonou

Negotiations are under way to redefine the EU’s future relationship with the ACP countries. Currently, it is defined by the Cotonou agreement which comes to an end in 2020. The agreement has helped to reduce poverty, increase stability and integrate the ACP countries into the global economy.

Development effectiveness and joint programming — working better with EU countries

The EU is committed to ensuring that development aid is spent as effectively as possible to achieve the SDGs. In this regard, it has endorsed several international agreements, including:

The key principles of development effectiveness, redefined at the Nairobi High-Level Meeting in 2016, are:

These principles are put into practice in programmes and projects as well as by means of joint programming, with the various EU development partners (the EU and EU countries) working in a partner country planning the development cooperation together.

Policy coherence for development (PCD)

Through policy coherence for development (PCD), the EU seeks to minimise the negative spillover effects of its policies on developing countries. This aims to:

To ensure it remains relevant in pursuit of the SDGs, the EU has integrated PCD in the overall Commission work on the implementation of the 2030 agenda. EU countries also have their own mechanisms in place to ensure PCD in their national policies. The 2019 EU report on policy coherence for development looks at the progress made by EU institutions and countries on PCD over the period 2015-2018.

People

Poverty and reducing inequalities

SDG 1, eradicating poverty, and SDG 10, tackling inequalities and discrimination, are central to EU development policy.

Preliminary results of research analysing inequality launched by the Commission in 2017 indicate:

Inequality at the national level remains an important obstacle to fast growth and poverty reduction. Although extreme poverty continues to shrink worldwide, it is still widespread in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa.

Human development

Priorities of the EU’s development policy include eradicating poverty (SDG 1), tackling inequalities and discrimination (SDG 10) and leaving no one behind. The human development approach focuses on people, their opportunities and choices. The EU supports partner countries’ societies and economies in becoming more inclusive and sustainable, so that everyone benefits from development and no one is left behind.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment

Gender equality is an EU fundamental value (Article 2 TEU) and a policy objective enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 19 TFEU). By promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, the EU contributes to the realisation of SDG 5 and the overall 2030 agenda, as also underlined in the 2017 European Consensus on Development.

Gender equality is an essential precondition for equitable and inclusive sustainable development, given that women and girls are half the world’s population. The EU aims to ensure that women and girls can fully and equally participate in social, economic, political and civil life. In particular, it supports the removal of obstacles to gender equality, such as discriminatory laws, unequal access to services and justice, education and health, jobs and economic empowerment, and political participation, and the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence, including by addressing social norms and gender stereotypes and supporting women's movements and civil society.

The EU gender action plan (2016-2020) sets the framework for the realisation of these priority objectives worldwide, through EU external relations policies. In 2017, the European Commission issued its first implementation report of the EU gender action plan 2016-2020.

One flagship EU initiative is the €500 million Spotlight Initiative, a unique partnership with the UN to eliminate violence against women and girls. The initiative brings together partner governments and civil society from Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Migration, forced displacement and asylum

While the topics of migration and mobility are not new, the number of international migrants has increased in recent years, reaching 258 million in 2017 (up from 220 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000). Most of the world’s international migrants are citizens of developing countries and developing countries host more than 85% of the world’s forcibly displaced persons.

Migration challenges continue to be at the top of the European agenda. In 2017 the European Commission continued to proactively address the development-migration nexus, in line with the 2030 agenda and the consensus on development. EU development cooperation played a crucial role in contributing to the overall EU efforts to address migration, in the context of the European Agenda on Migration, the Valletta declaration, the partnership framework on migration and the new EU approach to forced displacement, in full compliance with development objectives and principles.

Through a range of development instruments, for instance through the emergency trust fund for Africa and the EU regional trust fund for Syria, but also under regular geographical instruments, the European Commission implemented actions in partner countries addressing both short- and long-term challenges and opportunities arising from migration.

In particular three aspects were in focus:

Through this comprehensive approach, the support in 2017 contributed to both strengthening the dialogue and partnership with partner countries in the area of migration and achieving tangible results in improving migration management, providing protection to vulnerable migrants and refugees and maximising the positive development impact of migration.

Among other achievements, in 2017, the EU:

Culture, education and health

The EU recognises the role of culture in economic growth and as an important component and enabler to facilitate:

In 2017, the EU adopted:

The objective of SDG 4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. Education is a fundamental human right and a public good. It also plays an important role in achieving other SDGs through learning, skills and awareness.

In 2017, the EU:

To achieve SDG 3 on health and well-being, the EU continued to work in the health area supporting the Global Fund and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as conducting research into fighting poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases. It also supported regional initiatives, like the second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership programme, and other multinational initiatives.

Working with the United Nations Population Fund, the EU supports efforts to increase the availability of quality reproductive health and maternal health services.

Food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture

With one in nine people suffering from food and nutrition insecurity, SDG 2 seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

Sustainable agriculture, together with sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, is indispensable to ending hunger and ensuring food security and remains a key driver for poverty eradication and sustainable development. Both agriculture and food security are crucial factors in achieving good nutrition outcomes.

The EU was one of the major movers behind the publication in 2017 of the Global Report on Food Crises which, indicating that nearly 108 million people were in a food crisis or emergency situation, identified the need:

The EU has several initiatives in place to help reduce the number of stunted children under the age of 5 by at least 7 million by 2025, with a €3.5 billion allocation over the 2014-2020 period.

Sustainable agriculture, from economic, social and environmental perspectives, is a central topic of the EU's development cooperation agenda with its partner countries. The EU focuses its work in this sector on:

Planet

Climate change

The EU is committed to contributing to the global fight against climate change in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement and SDG 13. We are putting the implementation of the nationally determined contributions at the core of the policy dialogue with our partner countries to integrate climate change in our policies, strategies, investment plans and projects so that they fully contribute to the Paris Agreement and SDG 13. Our work on climate change and the 2030 agenda must go hand in hand.

The EU has upped its efforts to manage risks and build resilience and adaptability to change, consistent with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The EU also supports the shift towards a low-emission, climate-resilient, green economy, consistent with SDG 8 on growth and SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production. Climate change is related to almost all SDGs.

Over the 2014-2018 period, the EU invested €8.2 billion to support climate action. The biggest share of EU climate funding went to adaptation actions (41%), followed by synergy actions addressing both adaptation and mitigation (31%) and by mitigation actions (28%). Our aim is to promote such actions contributing to both adaptation and mitigation.

Environment and sustainable management of natural resources

The environment and natural resources, like land, water resources, forests, fish stocks and biodiversity, are key to developing countries’ economies and their citizens’ livelihoods. Their protection and sustainable management are essential to meeting the 2030 sustainable development agenda (including SDGs 6, 12, 14 and 15), to eradicating poverty and hunger and ensuring health, well-being, access to clean water and sanitation and sustainable growth, while preserving ecosystems and fighting climate change. The EU supports partner countries in improving environmental and natural resource governance, sustainably managing land, water, forests and other natural resources, protecting biodiversity, tackling pollution and promoting inclusive green economies.

Sustainable energy

Access to modern and sustainable energy services is one of the key target areas of EU development assistance. In 2017, the Commission issued a paper showing that cooperation on sustainable energy contributes to the implementation of the European Consensus on Development.

Under the 2014-2020 financial perspective, €3.7 billion have been allocated to sustainable energy cooperation for development to contribute to the three EU objectives with a deadline of 2020: providing access to energy to about 40 million people, increasing renewable energy generation by about 6.5 gigawatts and contributing to fighting climate change, by saving about 15 million tons of CO2/year.

For example, the EU aims to deliver its contribution to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative objectives and reach 5 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2020 while bringing access to sustainable energy to 30 million people in Africa and saving 11 million tons of CO2 per year.

Prosperity

Working with the private sector

Because investment needs in partner countries are substantial and donor funds from governments and international organisations are insufficient to meet them, the EU makes use of blending, where EU grants are combined with loans or equity from public and private financiers, thereby contributing to SDG 17 (strengthen the means of implementation and partnerships for the goals). The EU blending framework consists of the following regional blending facilities:

A major innovation, the EFSD Guarantee uses limited public funds to leverage in particular private investment for viable projects that would otherwise struggle to get off the ground or expand, while focusing on sustainable development objectives in partner countries. The EIP as a whole focuses on removing constraints to sustainable private investment and supporting priority reforms through a strengthened dialogue with the private sector and relevant stakeholders. Boosting sustainable investment and job creation (SDG 8) is also one of the main objectives of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs launched in September 2018.

On trade, in November 2017, the EU adopted a new Aid for Trade strategy, achieving prosperity through trade and investment, jointly with EU countries. The strategy seeks to encourage better mobilisation of EU Aid for Trade with a view to helping developing countries to take full developmental advantage of various EU policy instruments, notably EU trade agreements and preferential schemes (including Economic Partnership Agreements and the Generalised Scheme of Preferences), in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

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 is convinced that accelerated levels of responsible investments domestic and international, public and private in agriculture and agribusinesses need to be achieved to create the required dynamics for sustainable growth and resilience across the rural areas of developing countries. Consistent with this approach, in September 2018, President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs.

Private-sector investments need to be stimulated by creating a well-regulated and serviced business environment; the public sector has a key role to play in achieving this. However, elevated risk levels, linked to production, financing and market risks, remain key constraints to stepping up private-sector investments. The EU helps reduce such risks through the European External Investment Plan (EIP). The EU supports land governance actions in about 40 countries with a total budget of almost €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).

Infrastructure, cities and digitalisation

Progress towards the 2030 agenda requires:

The ongoing digital transformation provides opportunities to increase job creation and accelerate access to quality basic services, improve transparency and accountability of governments and enhance democracy. The precondition is to have good connectivity and adapted regulation to support the achievement of SDG 9.

The EU helps coordinate the joint Africa-EU infrastructure agenda and is involved 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. The year 2017 saw the development of the International Urban Cooperation programme that shares urban best practices 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).

Peace

Democracy, human rights, good governance

The EU is founded upon the fundamental values of respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights (Article 2 TEU). The promotion of these values is a key external relations priority (Article 21 TEU), which has been translated into the EU’s Global Strategy (EUGS. The EU supports partner countries in implementing SDG 16 on democracy, access to justice, anti-corruption, human rights and good governance through its development aid programming. Activities in partnership with third-country governments include electoral assistance and democracy support, justice and anti-corruption reforms, and the promotion of media independence and fundamental freedoms.

In addition, the EU plays a leading global role through its dedicated European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The instrument's priorities are informed by the EU action plan on human rights and democracy (2014-2019). It focuses on strengthening human rights international bodies and courts and is chiefly addressed to civil society and independent oversight bodies to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy.

For instance, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights allows emergency measures and confidential projects to protect human rights organisations and human rights activists who operate in the most difficult environments.

Targeted support to EU delegations is provided to build capacity in the promotion of human rights. For instance, on freedom of expression, this is done via two programmes:

Fragility and resilience

In 2017, the EU adopted a multi-sectorial commitment on resilience. A pilot process in six countries (Chad, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda) was launched to test a broader humanitarian/development/peace nexus approach in fragile contexts.

During 2017, work on resilience and tackling fragilities also progressed in the following 4 areas.

Security

The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace regulation (IcSP) is the main financial instrument of the Commission dedicated to improving stability, peace and resilience in partner countries. The global scope and security focus of the IcSP makes it complementary to other financial tools; in particular, where geographical or thematic instruments tied to official development assistance criteria cannot be used, but also to address issues of trans-regional or global nature. Under the programmable part of the IcSP managed by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), more than 260 projects are ongoing, benefiting 70 countries. Partner countries' and EU countries' agencies implement these projects jointly.

The projects cover a wide range of issues, for instance: countering violent extremism; technical assistance to law enforcement communities to fight terrorism, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, organised crime, drug trafficking or money laundering; capacity-building to improve justice systems; or protection of critical infrastructures. Supporting tools may include 'train the trainer', on-site assistance, tabletop and real-life cross-border field exercises, as well as the development of national action plans based on needs and risk assessments. Since January 2018, the EU has been able to support capacity-building for security and development (CBSD). Training and equipment can be provided to partner country militaries for activities in support of development objectives in exceptional circumstances.

With a multidimensional approach addressing intentional (terrorism, crime) but also accidental (Seveso, Fukushima) and environmental (Ebola) security, the IcSP contributes to several UN SDGs and key areas of the European Consensus on Development, including key priority actions in the EU neighbourhood.

Nuclear safety

The European Commission does not promote nuclear energy, which is the sole responsibility of the government of a state, but it does promote nuclear safety. Any nuclear accident has a global effect on societies, therefore nuclear safety cooperation is of utmost importance for the safety and security of European citizens and the environment.

With a multidimensional approach addressing nuclear safety, health, the environment, and related issues, the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation programme contributes to many key areas of the European Consensus on Development, including key priority actions in the EU neighbourhood, Central Asia and Iran.

Challenges exist in countries in the EU neighbourhood. These challenges primarily relate to countries deciding to use nuclear energy, like Belarus and Turkey, extending reactor lifespans, such as Armenia and Ukraine, and decommissioning and managing radioactive waste.

Partnerships

SDG 17 refers to partnership in development and underlines the importance of inclusive, multi-stakeholder platforms as a means of implementing the 2030 agenda effectively. The EU is committed to achieving SDG 17, both through its own external actions and resources and by facilitating implementation by others. The EU continues to be engaged in UN development-related processes, in particular the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC), which currently undertakes a development effectiveness-monitoring exercise at country level.

Cooperation with civil society

With the adoption of the 2012 Communication, the European Commission recognised civil society organisations (CSOs) as actors in governance, not just service providers. The EU also takes an inclusive, whole of society approach’ to the implementation of the SDGs, by broadening engagement to unconventional CSOs, such as foundations, diaspora, trade unions, business associations, etc. Foundations, in particular, play a growing and influential role.

The European Commission has fostered dialogue with and the consultation of CSOs, particularly through the Policy Forum on Development, which provides a space for multi-stakeholder exchange on development policies. It has signed 25 Framework Partnership Agreements with international and regional civil society networks, to support CSOs in contributing to regional and global policymaking, particularly related to the successful implementation of the SDGs.

At country level, the EU has elaborated 107 roadmaps for engagement with civil society. Roadmaps are a country's strategic and comprehensive framework to encompass all the support from the EU, including the delegations and the EU countries, towards civil society. Conceived as a joint initiative between the European Union and its countries, roadmaps were introduced to strengthen Europe’s engagement with civil society.

The EU has allocated €1.4 billion for 2014-2020 to support CSOs at global and country level through the CSO local authorities programme that focuses on participation, partnership and multi-stakeholder dialogues to reflect the core values of Agenda 2030.

The 2017 report on EU engagement with civil society outlines the many forms and examples in which this support is taking place and how Europe is strengthening its engagement with civil society.

Cooperation with donor community

Collectively, the the European Union and its countries are the world's leading provider of official development assistance. European development assistance represents almost 57% of the total global development assistance by donors from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee. The EU also works collectively on common policies and at country level to deploy common approaches, including joint programming.

Besides, in the logic of partnership for the implementation of the 2030 agenda and the Addis Ababa action agenda, as well as to strengthen multilateralism, the European Commission engages in regular development dialogue with non-EU partners, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea and the US. Its circle of partners is constantly enlarging through engagement with new or emerging donors, such as those from the Arab world.

Cooperation with international organisations

The EU also engages strategically with the UN and other international organisations and international financial institutions. Besides substantial assistance being channelled through these organisations and institutions, regular high-level strategic dialogues take place. The EU is notably actively engaged:

Global reach

List of countries eligible for EU development aid

MAIN DOCUMENTS

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part One — Principles — Title I — Categories and areas of Union competence — Article 4 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 51-52)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Five — The Union’s external action — Title III — Cooperation with third countries and humanitarian aid — Chapter 1 — Development cooperation — Article 208 (ex Article 177 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 141)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union — Title V — General provisions on the Union's external action and specific provisions on the common foreign and security policy — Chapter 1 — General provisions on the Union's external action — Article 21(2)(d) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 28-29)

last update 09.07.2019