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Investing in people

Within the financial perspectives 2007-2013, this Commission Communication describes the new thematic programme for external aid, "Investing in people". As well as outlining recent developments in human and social development, the Communication also sets out the different areas and methods of intervention under the programme.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 25 January 2006, "Investing in people" [COM(2006) 18 - not published in the Official Journal].


The current legislative framework governing external action has to be simplified. To this end, within the financial perspectives 2007-2013, the Commission is proposing six new instruments to meet two main objectives:

  • horizontal instruments to respond to particular needs and circumstances;
  • instruments designed to implement particular policies with specific geographical coverage (geographical programmes).

These instruments are to provide the legal basis for Community expenditure in support of external cooperation programmes and replace the existing thematic regulations.

Forming part of this new external assistance architecture, the new thematic programme "Investing in people" provides a number of advantages:

  • improved consistency among EU policies;
  • a framework for sharing know-how;
  • improved monitoring, data collection and analysis;
  • greater emphasis placed on innovation;
  • a higher international profile.

Social and human development: recent developments

In addition to the wealth of experience built up at national and international level, several assessments and evaluations have been carried out recently in the following areas:

  • poverty diseases, sexual health, gender equality;
  • education;
  • employment and social cohesion;
  • culture.

The Commission's analysis highlighted the need for a holistic and coherent thematic approach to human and social development, which must back up the various national initiatives. The programme "Investing in people" could pave the way for the development of European-level strategies that would respond effectively to the new priorities for health, education, social policy and culture in the field of human and social development.

The thematic programme

The focus of the thematic programme is on six different areas of action: health, knowledge and skills, culture, employment and social cohesion, gender equality, youth and children.

In order to ensure access to health care for all, the programme sets out to:

  • mobilise global public goods to combat and prevent diseases;
  • support innovative health measures;
  • improve the regulatory framework;
  • increase political and public awareness and education;
  • improve technical resources.

In the field of access to knowledge and skills, the measures taken to support national programmes consist mainly in:

  • supporting low-income countries for the development of successful education policies;
  • promoting reciprocal learning via international exchanges of experience and good practice;
  • promoting transnational university cooperation and the mobility of students and researchers at international level;
  • developing a broader framework for monitoring and data assessment;
  • promoting schooling for marginalised and vulnerable children.

In the field of culture, the new thematic programme should make for:

  • the bringing together of peoples and cultures on an equal footing, while preserving diversity;
  • greater international cooperation to fully exploit the economic potential of the cultural sector.

To reduce socio-economic inequalities, the new thematic programme will focus on social cohesion and employment, and will do this in three different ways, by:

  • promoting of the "decent work for all" agenda through global and multinational initiatives;
  • supporting initiatives to promote the improvement of working conditions as well as the adjustment to trade liberalisation;
  • promoting the social dimension of globalisation and the EU's experience.

A fundamental human right, gender equality is already the subject of country action, which the new thematic programme will complement by:

  • supporting the various programmes that contribute to achieving the objectives of the Beijing Declaration;
  • backing the efforts of civil society organisations;
  • helping to include the gender perspective in statistics.

Finally, the thematic programme will place the interests of young people and children at the centre of European action, by:

  • drawing countries' attention to children and youth issues and enhancing their capacity to address these issues in external action;
  • supporting regional, inter-regional and global initiatives in key areas, such as preventing all forms of child labour, human trafficking and sexual violence;
  • supporting the youth employment network;
  • supporting efforts to promote young people and children in situations and regions where bilateral cooperation has limitations;
  • supporting the monitoring of data, the development of policies, the exchange of information, awareness-raising campaigns and innovative initiatives in all areas that affect young people and children.


Human and social development is part of the "European Consensus" on development policy. This statement is the cornerstone of the Union's international commitments as set out in the Millennium Declaration, at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit for Social Development, the Beijing Platform for Action on gender equality and the September 2005 UN Summit.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on "External Actions through Thematic Programmes under the Future Financial Perspectives 2007 - 2013" [COM(2005) 324 final - not published in the Official Journal]

Last updated: 02.06.2006