The glossary is being updated given the recent signing of the Treaty of Lisbon.
The beginnings of the European Community's development policy coincided with the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and the Member States' overseas countries and territories were its first beneficiaries. However, it is only since the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht Treaty, 1993) that this policy has enjoyed a specific legal basis (Articles 177 to 181 of the EC Treaty). With the successive enlargements of the Union, cooperation has gradually extended to other countries, such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) which have a particularly close and long-standing relationship with certain Member States. The Cotonou Agreement, signed in June 2000 and revised in June 2005, has strengthened this partnership, which is to a large extent based on the various Lomé Conventions, the first of which was signed in 1975.
In addition to these initial agreements, other countries also benefit from the Community's development policy, such as the countries of Latin America and Asia.
The main objective of the European Community's development policy is to eradicate poverty. This policy is implemented not only through bilateral and regional agreements but also through specific programmes in certain sectors such as health and education. The development policy also entails cooperation with international institutions and the participation of the Community and Member States in initiatives implemented at global level such as the Initiative for Highly Indebted Poor Countries.
Today, the Union is the main trading partner of developing countries and the main contributor to development aid. The European Community and its Member States together provide 55% of international development aid.