Over half of all development aid comes from the EU and its member countries, making them collectively the world's largest donor. Most aid goes to the low-income and least developed countries.
In 2013, EU development aid – aid from EU funds and EU countries' national budgets combined - totalled €56.2 billion.
That amounts to 0.43 % of EU gross national income (GNI). The EU countries have committed themselves to reaching the target of 0.7% of GNI by 2015.
EU development policy aims above all to eradicate poverty, using a sustainable approach. Key to this are the UN's 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted in 2000 with a 2015 deadline. They range from halving extreme poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education.
While the number of people living in absolute poverty has fallen by 600 million since 1990, less progress has been made towards other MDGs. It is proving particularly difficult to reduce deaths of mothers and babies in childbirth and to provide clean drinking water. The EU has sought to help by pledging an additional €1 bn to be used in 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific nations in pursuing the goals on which least progress has been made.
The EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, is to examine the future of the global development agenda after 2015 as a member of a high-level UN group led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Agenda for Change, adopted in 2012, sets out a new approach to EU development policy which reflects a changing world, the emergence of new donors, and new challenges for developing nations.
The new policy aims to make aid more strategic, targeted and results-oriented. It has 2 main strands:
A farmer diversifies her income by growing sunflowers
The Agenda for Change targets development aid in 3 areas:
It aims to
Over the years, the EU has supported many countries in their efforts to eradicate poverty and create a better future for their people. This is often a long-term process.
Recent success stories include:
For more development case studies, see "Africa, Caribbean & Pacific".
EU development policy aims to give disadvantaged people in developing countries control over their own development. That means:
Published in February 2014
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series