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Cooperation in the EU Framework

EU development cooperation

Development cooperation is one of the most important fields of EU external relations and one of the oldest community policies. Provisions on the promotion of socio-economic development of countries and overseas territories, as well as on the deepening of economic ties between them and the Community were already present in the 1957 Treaty establishing the European Economic community. The Treaty was annexed with an executive convention establishing a special fund for the development of countries and overseas territories, financed by the EEC countries. The Fund began operating in 1959 as a tool for providing technical and financial assistance to countries and territories in association with the Community.

The 1991 Treaty of Maastricht sanctioned Community development policy as supplementary to the policies of Member States conducive to socio-economic development of developing countries, including these countries in the global economy and counteracting poverty in these countries. The EU has been obligated to act in a way which ensures coherence of other community policies with development policy, under the so-called Policy Coherence for Development - PCD.

In December 2005, the European Consensus on Development was adopted as the first document in the history of European integration to define the common framework, principles and goals of EU and Member State development policy.

The primary and overarching objective of EU development cooperation is the eradication of poverty in the context of sustainable development, including pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Treaty of Lisbon upheld the shared competence of the EU and its Member States in the field of development cooperation. Thus, the EU and the Member States are obligated to coordinate their development cooperation policies and to consult aid programmes they implement both bilaterally and through international organizations. Similar rules apply to EU humanitarian aid cooperation.

The EU is the world's largest donor of official development aid (ODA)[1]. The Union finances around 60% of global aid. The general budget and the European Development Fund (EDF) finance some 20 percent of EU expenditures towards development assistance, the remaining share is financed via the initiatives of the 28 Member States, implemented in the framework of national development aid systems.

The EU development cooperation system comprises:


[1] According to OECD Development Assistance Committee methodology, Official Development Assistance - ODA - consists of all flows of public financing administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as the main objective. They must be non-repayable (grants/donations) or concessional in character (flows with a grant element of at least 25 percent). Development assistance also comprises contributions made towards international organizations, programmes and funds engaged in aid activities. In the case of many international institutions, part or whole of the contributions are qualified by the OECD Development Assistance Committee as development aid.

[2] The main task of the High Representative is to represent the EU in external relations, coordinate EU foreign policy - including development policy - and chair the Foreign Affairs Council.

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