Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands

Development Cooperation

17/05/2017 - 17:57
Policy - Activity

The EU is the world’s largest development aid donor, providing more than 50% of assistance worldwide and working closely with our partners to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The EU is committed to eradicating poverty and building a fairer and more stable world. Through its policies the EU promotes good governance for human and economic development in partner countries.  The EU works with partners to tackle universal issues such as hunger and the preservation of natural resources. The EU remains the world’s largest development aid donor, providing more than 50% of assistance worldwide.

The European Consensus on Development, supporting the EU Global Strategy, commits the EU to eradicating poverty and building a fairer and more stable world. Over half of all development aid comes from the EU and its members, making them collectively the world's largest aid donor. Most aid goes to low-income and least developed countries.

The Consensus is a shared vision and framework for action for development cooperation for the European Union and its Member States. It is a blueprint which aligns the Union's development policy with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing on: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership.

Based on the 2011 Agenda for Change, EU assistance is concentrated in two overall priority areas:

  • Human rights, democracy and other aspects of good governance
  • Inclusive and sustainable growth, to help create growth in developing countries – so poor people have the means to lift themselves out of poverty


The EU takes an integrated approach to its external action. This includes taking a holistic view of the variety of policies and approaches necessary for sustainable development, such as peace and security, good governance and human rights - including gender equality, innovation, action to mitigate the effects of climate change and fair international economic relations. It also implies taking a partnership approach, at the bilateral and multi-lateral levels. Specifically, the EU’s development cooperation objectives are as follows:

  • Play a key role in the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
  • Promote democracy, the rule of law, and the respect of human rights in developing countries
  • Ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental progress in developing countries
  • Make development aid from different European countries more effective by deepening the cooperation between national governments

Giving people control over their own future

EU development policy aims to give disadvantaged people in developing countries control over their own development. That means:

  • Addressing the causes of vulnerability, e.g. poor access to food, clean water, education, health, employment, land, social services, infrastructure and a healthy environment
  • Eradicating disease and providing access to cheap medicines to fight epidemics like HIV/AIDS
  • Reducing developing countries' debt burden, so they have more money for vital public investments, instead of paying interest to rich lenders in industrialised countries
  • Promoting self-help and poverty-eradication strategies
  • Supporting the democratic process
  • Improving respect for human rights, including equality between the sexes
  • Encouraging a more stable economic environment in which businesses can grow and create jobs.

External Investment Plan

In line with its integrated approach, the EU complements its development aid with investment into partner countries. The European External Investment Plan (EIP) was adopted in September 2017 to help boost investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood. It aims to:

  • Contribute to the UN's sustainable development goals (SDG) while tackling some of the root causes of migration
  • Mobilise and leverage sustainable public and private investments to improve economic and social development with a particular focus on decent job creation.

The EIP supports partner countries by:

A special focus on the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries

Among others in the field of development cooperation, the EU has since 1975 developed a special partnership with the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific. The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (CPA) dates from 2000 and is also known as the 'Cotonou Agreement'. It was concluded for a twenty-year period and will expire in February 2020.

The EU and ACP countries are currently seeking to renew and update their partnership.

More information:

Who does what

While the European External Action Service ensures synergies between development and other areas of external action, such as human rights, security, stability, conflict prevention, the European Commission, and in particular EuropeAid, is responsible for the implementation, operation and delivery of development aid.

Multi-annual strategies and programmes – prepared jointly by the EEAS and EuropeAid – specify where EU development assistance will be distributed.

When formulating and managing these programmes, the EU consults with national and regional authorities in potential recipient countries. This results in country and regional strategies, which identify areas for funding.

The EEAS supports EuropeAid as it implements aid and assesses effectiveness, whilst also promoting the dissemination of good practices.

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