The European Union (EU) is a unique actor in the development cooperation field: it receives large contributions from its 28 Member States, which makes it the biggest multilateral donor of Official Development Assistance (ODA) worldwide. In 2016 the EU and its Member States reached the highest level recorded to date of ODA, amounting to €75.5 billion and representing an increase of 11% when compared to 2015 (as per preliminary data). As is the case with other EU DAC donors, it is important however to note that this ODA increase is linked with a significant expansion of in-donor refugee costs in 2016.
Policies & funding
European institutions remain committed to SRH/FP, as can be seen by the adoption of the revised European Consensus on Development in 2017. Being the framework for action for EU development cooperation in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Consensus reinstates strong commitment to SRH/FP. In June 2017, the European institutions also published a Communication on the revised Africa-EU partnership, which recommits to the promotion of reproductive health care as a way to empower women and youth. This was followed by Council conclusions on the same topic, where the EU recommitted to SRHR. The European Parliament has also committed to RH/FP in several resolutions regarding EU development policy and humanitarian assistance.
During the United National General Assembly in 2017, European institutions launched the EU-UN Spotlight initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls with an initial amount of 500 million Euros. This will also include a call for proposals on gender equality launched following a 2016 commitment, addressing specific activities on provision of services, including FP.
The EU is also expected to face challenges in the upcoming years, following the British decision to leave the EU in a referendum in June 2016. The UK is a leading contributor of EU development budget and has been supportive of RH/FP at the political level as well.
While European institutions are reflecting on how to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and revision of key partnerships, such as between EU and ACP states, EU funding has been subject to a midterm review in 2017. This is the case for the European Development Fund (EDF) and the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), which are traditionally the main funding sources to SRH/FP.
European institutions provide a significant amount of their funding for health to multilateral institutions through specific earmarked projects. The data on the extent of this support is not always forthcoming. UNFPA is a recurrent recipient of EU funding, having received an estimated 24 million Euros in 2016. UNFPA’s Supplies Programme received a renewed commitment of 20 million Euros in 2016. Other multilaterals that are also of relevance to RH/FP include UNICEF, UN Women and WHO (under which EU voluntary contributions are targeted to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, among others).
In general, the Commission provides approximately 500 million Euros per year of health support to low and middle income countries, including funds for population policies/programmes and reproductive health. As the bulk of this financing is direct health sector support at country level for health systems strengthening and universal access to the essential package of health services (including FP and maternal health services), it is difficult to quantify how much of this funding benefits SRH/FP alone.
According to preliminary data, in 2016 the European Institutions continued disbursing funds for SRH/FP projects through international NGOs or initiatives amounting to a total of €19.92 million. Part of this contribution still refers to EU's 28 million pledge to FP2020 in 2012.
European institutions continued their strong support to the GFATM (Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria), having renewed their commitment up to €470 million for the period 2017-2019. This new pledge represents an increase of €100 million compared to the previous period. In 2016, European institutions disbursed 242.106 million Euros to the GFATM, with €12.1 million being counted under the C2015E methodology as going towards SRH/FP.
Also in 2016, European institutions announced a new funding decision amounting to €30 million (later increased up to 32) for a new call for proposals on ‘Promoting Gender Equality and Women's and Girls' empowerment in developing countries’, which aims at increasing access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, among others. Also in 2016, European institutions awarded 5 million Euros for a CSO project entitled ‘State of the African Woman Campaign’ and which aims at improving women's rights in the continent, namely through the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.
Finally, in 2015 the EC set up different Trust Funds as new pooled funding mechanisms. The establishment of these Funds reflects how EU development policy has been increasingly influenced by migration and security issues. While it is early to properly assess the impact these modalities have on EU funding for SRH/FP, the first annual report of the EU Trust Fund for Africa, published in 2016, shows that almost 45 million Euros have been allocated to projects that include SRH/FP. (TBC if any of this has been disbursed).
The EU is considered to have played a prominent role in shaping the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDGs, adopted in 2015. The European institutions have in several occasions confirmed their commitment to ‘lead by example’, and have said that the Spotlight Initiative will be a way to do that.
- Updated January 2018
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