Last updated: April 2017
Strategic priorities
  • The EU’s development strategy is set in the European Consensus on Development. Its objectives are poverty reduction, rural development, agriculture, food security, and human development, which includes health.
  • The EU’s Agenda for Change outlines policy guidelines that complement the Consensus. It stipulates increasing the effectiveness and impact of the EU’s development policy as key goals, including a more targeted allocation of funding and budget support with stricter aid conditionality. It calls for a focus on the poorest countries and engagement with the private sector.
  • The ‘refugee crisis’ has led to increased budget allocations to address migration and humanitarian assistance both inside and outside the EU.  
Key opportunities
  • The European Consensus on Development will be reviewed in 2017: the Commission presented a proposal for a new Consensus in November 2016, in which it aims to streamline the EU development strategy with the Agenda 2030, and to better coordinate the development cooperation of the EU and the member states. The proposal is likely to influence the mid-term reviews of the DCI and EDF that take place in 2017, which may reassess geographic and thematic allocations. 
  • The renewal of the Cotonou Agreement, which governs relations between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, is underway: outreach and feedback for a new agreement will be gathered until mid-2017, and the 18-month negotiations will begin in mid-2018. This means that 2017 is a pivotal year to influence the EU’s mandate to negotiate a new agreement with the ACP countries.

Key Questions

the big six

The EU supports the construction of the 932m Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi river, connecting Zambia and Botswana. Infrastructure is the largest bilateral ODA sector of the EC.



How will EU's ODA develop? — What will EU’s ODA focus on? —What are key opportunities for shaping EU development policy? read more

How will the EU's ODA develop?

  • The EU has concluded its multiannual programming for the 2014-2020 period, and sector priorities and allocations are set within the multiannual financing framework (MFF). The projected budget for official development assistance (ODA) for 2016 (including the EDF, DCI, and EIB loans) is €14.4 billion and for 2017 €14.1 billion.
  • The refugee crisis will continue to have an impact on the EU’s ODA and on how much of the EU budget is available for global development programs. In December 2016, the EU budget for 2017 was adopted, increasing funding by €6 billion to address the consequences and root causes of the migration crisis. 
  • The result of the British referendum to leave the European Union may have significant consequences on development cooperation of the EU. The UK contributes approximately US$2 billion annually to EU development programs through the EU’s general budget and the EDF. It is, however, unclear exactly how this will unfold.

What will be in focus?

  • Funding for health will likely remain stable, while funding for agriculture will increase.
  • Funding for humanitarian assistance and to address the migration crisis inside and outside of the EU will remain a strong focus of EU development assistance.
  • Focus on low-income countries will increase as the EU is closing bilateral programs with 16 middle-income countries in Asia and Latin America by 2020.

What are key opportunities for shaping the EU’s development policy?

  • In 2017, the Commission will conduct mid-term reviews of the EDF,  DCI, and the MFF. There will be a consultation between February and May on all the external financing instruments of the EU, to which all stakeholders will be invited to participate. According to the results of the mid-term review, the Commission might revise respective geographic and thematic allocations of the instruments.
  • The renewal of the Cotonou Agreement will formally be launched in September 2018 and may lead to changes to the EU’s relationship with African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries. It may also carry with it the inclusion of the budget of the EDF into the EU’s general budget, which would allow the Parliament to scrutinize the EDF budget. 2017 will be a pivotal year to shape the EU’s mandate to negotiate a new agreement with the ACP , as outreach activities (with member states, European Parliament, ACP countries, and others) will run till mid-2017.
  • The European Consensus on Development underwent a public consultation in 2016, and a proposal was published by the Commission in December 2016. The Commission suggests a stronger collective European development policy and stronger alignment between the development policy of the Union and its member states with the 2030 Agenda. During the first half of 2017, the Commission’s proposal will be discussed by member states at the Council and by the European Parliament.