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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 23 September 2013

EU is making major contribution to global fight against poverty

Over the last decade, thanks to EU funding, almost 14 million pupils could go to primary school, more than 46 million people were helped with cash or other in-kind benefits to ensure their food security, and over 7.5 million births were attended by skilled health workers, saving the lives of mothers and babies.

These are just some of the new results published today by the European Commission on how it has helped reduce global poverty and supported the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), improving the lives of millions of people.

The new results, which cover EU activities between 2004 and 2012, come some days ahead of a UN Special Event in New York that will discuss how progress on eradicating poverty can be accelerated and how a comprehensive global agenda for development after 2015 could be shaped. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, will take part in the event, and will be accompanied by Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, and Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik.

President José Manuel Barroso commented: “The world has made impressive progress in fighting poverty and we can be proud of the European Union's great contribution to this success. I firmly believe that eradicating poverty within one generation is possible. My vision is of a world where everyone lives in dignity and prosperity, with access to clean water, sanitation and energy, as well as education and health services; a world where fundamental human rights are universally respected, and where development is sustainable. Investing in fair and sustainable globalisation is not just the right thing to do. It is also a matter of strategic vision.”

Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: “The EU is the most generous donor in the world and our work has really made a difference to the lives of millions of people. We will continue to make every effort to ensure that the MDGs are met by 2015, notably through the implementation of the €1 billion MDG initiative which already benefits almost 50 partner countries. This UN MDG Special Event is a unique opportunity to step up a gear in global action for the next two years and make the MDGs a success. I also expect this event to steer the international community towards an agreement for a post-2015 agenda which should tackle the eradication of poverty and sustainable development challenges. The EU is determined to help ensure a decent life for all by 2030 and beyond.”

Some key results of European Commission programmes in the period 2004-2012:

  • 7.7 million people have received technical and vocational education and training

  • 46.5 million people have been assisted through social transfers for food security

  • 13.7 million new pupils have been enrolled in primary education

  • 1.2 million primary teachers have been trained

  • 37,000 schools have been built or renovated

  • 300,000 new female students have been enrolled in secondary education

  • 18.3 million children under one year were immunised against measles

  • Over 7.5 million births were attended by skilled health personnel

  • 18 million insecticide-treated bednets were distributed

  • More than 70 million people have been connected to improved drinking water

  • 24.5 million people have been connected to sanitation facilities

  • More than 711 million voters have been covered by election observation missions

  • 87,000 km of roads have been maintained, constructed or rehabilitated


In the year 2000, the international community agreed to reduce global poverty and save millions of lives, defining eight specific Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be achieved by 2015. They cover issues such as poverty and hunger, education, gender equality, health, environment and a global partnership for development. The European Union has been committed to helping achieve the MDGs ever since and has led the way in integrating them into its development policy and practice. In 2010, President Barroso announced a special European MDG initiative worth one billion euros to help countries achieve those MDGs most off track – hunger, maternal health, child mortality and access to water and sanitation. Today, almost 50 countries receive support under this pledge.

The full list of key results from European Commission programmes and an overview of EU policies and activities that contribute to the eight MDGs can be found in the brochure “EU Contribution to the Millennium Development Goals”:

A UN Special Event is scheduled for 25 September 2013 in New York to review the MDGs and consider ways to accelerate progress towards achieving them. It will also look forward, beyond 2015, and discuss the way ahead on a post-2015 global development framework that coherently combines the full eradication of poverty with targeted measures to boost global sustainability, which are mutually reinforcing.

Discussions on shaping this global agenda for the time after 2015 are on-going. In September 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon formed a “High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development”, of which Commissioner Piebalgs was a member. The Panel delivered its report “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development" in 30 May 2013.

In February 2012, the European Commission had already set out its own position on an overarching future development framework, entitled “A Decent Life for All – Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future”


For more information

MEMO/13/809: The Millennium Development Goals and a global development agenda after 2015

IP/11/1063: EU €1 billion Millennium Development Goals initiative to support maternal health, contribute to fight against child mortality and hunger and improve supply of water and sanitation

Website of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Website of the European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik:

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Maria Sanchez Aponte (+32 2 298 10 35)

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