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The EU contribution towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

The EU contribution towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

This communication takes stock of the EU's contribution to reducing poverty in the world and identifies the measures that need to be taken to speed up achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee of 12 April 2005: Speeding up progress towards the Millennium Development Goals – The European Union’s contribution – [COM(2005) 132 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


At the 2000 Millennium Summit the international community adopted the Millennium Declaration, committing itself to a global project designed to definitively reduce the many aspects of extreme poverty. There are eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with specific targets related to the Millennium Declaration:

  • eradicating poverty and hunger in the world;
  • achieving universal primary education;
  • strengthening gender equality;
  • reducing child mortality;
  • improving maternal health;
  • combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;
  • ensuring environmental sustainability;
  • developing a global partnership for development.

The European Union (EU) made specific commitments to achieve these goals by 2015. The Commission stresses that the Community and its Member States have already made a substantial contribution to the efforts of the international community. The EU is now the largest aid donor (55 % of global ODA). Despite that, progress in achieving the MDGs must speed up. The goals cannot be achieved simply by pursuing the same policies as before.

For the EU's contribution to the UN Summit in September 2005 and with a view to speeding up progress towards the MDGs, the Council asked the Commission to draw up ambitious proposals for the 2015 target date, emphasising financing for development, policy coherence for development and the focus on Africa. The Commission's proposals basically aim to:

  • set new intermediate targets for growth in official aid budgets by 2010 with a view to achieving the overall target of 0.7 % of gross national income (GNI) by 2015;
  • speed up reforms that will improve the quality of aid;
  • rethink the way that the EU, through its own model of sustainable development and its internal and external policies, influences the conditions for development;
  • ensure that Africa is the number one beneficiary of these new approaches and seize new opportunities for partnership between the two continents.

More resources are needed

The Commission is inviting the Member States to continue to increase their official aid budgets and to go beyond their Monterrey commitment. It is proposing to set a new minimum individual target of 0.51 % ODA/GNI (0.17 % for new Member States) to be achieved by 2010, raising the EU collective average to 0.56 %. This commitment would generate an additional EUR 20 billion by 2010, enabling the target of 0.7 % of GNI set by the UN to be reached by 2015.

New sources of financing that are additional to ODA must also be sought. These should be permanent and predictable in the long term.

Better-quality aid

What is needed as well as more international aid is donor harmonisation and alignment on the partners’ own strategies, in the interests of efficiency gains and lower transaction costs. The current lack of harmonisation imposes administrative burdens and needless costs on the partner countries.

Trade at the service of development

Improvements in development cooperation will not suffice to meet the challenge of the MDGs. Policies other than aid can have a fundamental role to play in assisting developing countries attain the MDGs. Against this background, the communication on policy coherence for development identifies policies that can obviously make a contribution to the developing countries’ efforts.

Focus on Africa

Many parts of sub-Saharan Africa lag far behind the rest of the world in reaching the MDGs. The Commission intends to focus on Africa and support African States so that they bear the primary responsibility for their own development.

To this end, the EU intends to focus on areas such as:

  • improving Africa’s governance: This can be done through financial support to the African Union (AU), twinning partnerships with its institutions, and by replenishing the Peace Facility for Africa to support African peacekeeping efforts;
  • interconnecting Africa’s networks and trade: Regional infrastructure networks and services must be created and sustained so that economic growth and trade become competitive and so that Africa’s exporters can find their place in the global market. In this respect, the Commission has set up a Europe-Africa partnership on infrastructure. There must also be more and better trade for sub-Saharan Africa;
  • striving towards equitable societies, access to services, decent work and environmental sustainability: The EU will support initiatives in this respect. Together with its African partners, it will further develop participatory approaches for local, national and regional planning and budgeting of resources. Development should also include environmental sustainability. The EU will implement concrete policy measures to increase the importance of criteria such as equity and environmental sustainability in the determination of aid allocations for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.


European Report on Development of 19 September 2008 "Millennium Development Goals at Midpoint: Where do we stand and where do we need to go?" (pdf). This Report assesses the achievement of the MDGs by 2015. Despite the economic growth of certain countries and the reduction in world poverty since 2000, the progress of developing countries has been unequal. Delays suffered by some countries in terms of health and education are particularly worrying.

In line with the commitments made by the EU and the international community, the level of public aid for development must be increased quickly. Countries receiving aid must commit to improve their economic and institutional governance. They should in particular contribute to the fulfilment of the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) for the quality and effectiveness of public aid (harmonisation of public procedures and public procurement systems, coordination of providers of funds, transparency and mutual accountability).

Financial aid adds to and supports development aid programmes. Thus, full achievement of the MDGs must take place in a coherent political framework, founded both on fair economic growth and on sectoral development policies. The coherence of international policies and programmes is an essential factor to achieve these goals (particularly in the areas of global economic governance, open markets, immigration, climate change and risk management).

The weaker States, defined as those lagging furthest behind in terms of achievement of MDGs, must be protected as a priority, in particular in the context of the global crisis.

In 2008, the role of the EU as the largest provider of funds and main partner in global peacekeeping operations remains a major one. Its development policy supports regional integration through trade.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 9 April 2008 – The EU – a global partner for development – Speeding up progress towards the Millennium Development Goals [COM(2008)177 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. This Communication identifies the measures that need to be taken to speed up progress towards the MDGs as regards the volume and effectiveness of development aid, aid for trade and policy coherence. It also contributes to the formulation of a Community position with an eye to the Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Doha in December 2008 and the High-Level Forum on Aid effectiveness to be held in Accra in September 2008.

Last updated: 19.02.2009