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Development Assistance

The European Union together with its Member States is the world's largest development aid donor. It supports those that need it most: the least developed, fragile or low-income countries and countries emerging from conflict. The EU's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) is responsible for designing European international cooperation and development policy and delivering aid internationally.

The EU works to:

  • Eradicate poverty
  • Ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental development, and
  • Promote democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights


These objectives are incorporated in all relevant EU policies and practices including trade, economic, energy, security and climate policies.

The EU makes sure that its development programs follow the priorities which governments have for their own countries’ development; about 25% of EU aid is given directly as budget support. The EU also consults with civil society: non-governmental organisations, trade unions, human rights groups, environmental protection groups, chambers of commerce and many others, and supports non-government organisations and UN agencies.

Coordinating development efforts is important to the EU. Synchronizing programmes can increase impact and decrease cost. In over 40 countries the EU has started “Joint Programming” with its Member States: preparing a common work framework based on shared assessment of the problems and needs in that country. Under joint programming each donor brings their strengths, expertise and comparative advantages and together they decide how to share tasks.

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Working with Japan on Development

The EU has a strong, strategic relationship with Japan that seeks also to unlock the considerable potential for development cooperation. With shared common values, rich experience and operational expertise we consult regularly at a senior level and have a regular policy dialogue as well as joining up efforts on the ground. In particular, we have worked together in Africa, to create the conditions for safe and sustainable development, for example by improving security, antiterrorism laws and judicial cooperation in Mali, and by capacity building of police officers and judicial administrators in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Millennium Development Goals and beyond

The EU has worked hard on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to alleviate poverty and improve the standard of living of people worldwide. As part of this, over the last decade the EU has helped almost 14 million children to go to primary school, and more than 70 million people to gain access to clean drinking water. We have consulted closely with Japan on this.

Looking beyond the 2015 deadline for the MDGS, the EU believes that the world has the technology and resources to eradicate extreme poverty and put the world on a sustainable path to a decent life for all by 2030. For this to happen though we need a framework that covers all countries, but is based on national ownership and takes into account different national situations, capacities and levels of development. It has to be people-centred, integrating the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced way. The EU will continue to liaise closely with Japan as we seek to make poverty a thing of the past.