EU - Global health

EUI’s ODA to health is characterized by strong budget support and contributions to multilateral organizations   

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data, the European Union Institutions (EUI; European Commission and European Investment Bank, EIB) spent US$959 million in ODA for health in 2019 making it the fifth-largest OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor to health in absolute terms. This amounts to 5% of its total ODA (DAC average: 8%).  

In 2019, the EUI channeled 75% of its health ODA bilaterally, amounting to US$722 million. This included US$209 million channeled as earmarked funding through multilateral institutions as well as US$56 million from the EUI’s general budget support that benefits the health sector. Overall, bilateral health ODA spending has been fluctuating since 2016 but is expected to increase in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

In 2019, key sectors receiving bilateral health funding included health policy and administrative management (28%), basic health care (26%), basic health infrastructure (16%), and basic nutrition (16%).

The EUI also contributes to key multilateral organizations working in health. Based on the OECD DAC methodology for calculating imputed multilateral contributions to the health sector, the EUI’s core contributions to multilateral organizations within the health sector amounted to US$236 million (or 25% of total health ODA) in 2019, with the largest contributions going to the Global Fund (US$142 million), Gavi (US$77 million), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) (US$18 million).  

The European Consensus on Development, signed in 2017, commits the EUI to a spending target of at least 20% of its ODA on human development and social inclusion, which includes health. The EUI rarely met this target during the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). However, health ODA allocations are likely to increase in 2020 and 2021 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The primary development instrument in the 2021-2027 MFF, the Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI – Global Europe), includes a target of 20% of NDICI - Global Europe to human development, with 10% of NDICI - Global Europe (half of the 20% human development target) going to education. This leaves approximately 10% for other components of human development, including health and social protection. 

In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the EU launched several initiatives aimed at supporting partner countries in responding to the immediate and long-term consequences of the crisis (it is currently unclear how much of this funding will be qualified for ODA reporting). 
These funding initiatives included:

  • The 'Team Europe' support package: In April 2020, the EU mobilized a €38.5 billion (US$43.1 billion) global recovery package for addressing COVID-19 induced humanitarian needs in partner countries. 
  • During the EU-hosted 'Coronavirus Global Response' pledging event in May 2020, the EUI committed a total of €1.0 billion (US$1.1 billion) in grants and €400 million (US$448 million) in guarantees on loans. Of this pledge, €100 million (US$112 million) was provided for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and €158 million (US$177 million) for the World Health Organization.
  • The EU and Global Citizen co-hosted event in June 2020, the EUI committed a further €4.9 billion (US$5.5) for the global COVID-19 response. 
  • The EU has contributed a total of €400 million (US$448 million) in grants and €600 million (US$672 million) in loans to the COVAX Facility, to finance access to COVID-19 vaccines for low-income and upper- and lower-middle-income countries.
  • Contributions to EU4Health: EU4Health the new largely domestic health program in the current MFF, has been allocated €5.1 billion (US$5.7 billion). Within this budget, a maximum of 12.5% of funding will go toward global health initiatives.

DG DEVCO’s Directorate on People and Peace leads policy development on health 

The Council defines overall priorities within global health, while the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) oversees developing the EU’s policies and thematic programs around global health. Within DG DEVCO, global health is covered by Unit B4, ’Culture, Education and Health’, within DG DEVCO’s Directorate B, ’People and Peace’. In the 2014-2020 MFF, the Global Public Goods and Challenges program allocated €5.1 billion (US$5.7 billion) for Human Development. Funding for health — alongside other issues such as education and social protection — comes out of this budget.