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 Euros and representing an increase of 11% when compared to 2015 (as per preliminary data). The European Institutions alone remained the fourth biggest donor globally, with an indicative contribution of 15.6 billion Euros, following the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. 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. 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. On 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 as per language from May 2015. The European Parliament has also committed to RH/FP in several resolutions regarding EU development policy and humanitarian assistance.
While European institutions are reflecting on how to implement the 2030 Agenda 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.
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.
Total disbursed funding
According to the EU’s “2017 Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions in 2016”, the EU disbursed a total of 13.104 billion Euros of ODA, in comparison to 10.36 billion Euros in 2015. From these, 100 million Euros were spent on population assistance and 854 million Euros on health (over twice as much as in 2015). Disbursement to these two sectors hence increased in 2016, as did total ODA spending. African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states received one third (33 out of 100 million Euros) of the total ODA for population polices/programmes and reproductive health from the EU institutions under the EDF.
In 2016 in terms of commitments, the EU pledged in total EUR 17.65 billion Euros to ODA – an increase of approximately 27%, compared to 13.94 billion in 2015. This can be justified by the fact that the first few years of EU’s multi annual financial framework for 2014-2020 witnessed slower implementation, later being followed by a steadier pace of EU spending.
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 around 24 million Euros in 2016. UNFPA’s Supplies Program received a renewed commitment of 3.3 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 2016 the Commission provided approximately 854 million Euros of health support to low and middle income countries, including funds for population polices/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 RH/FP alone.
In 2016, the European Institutions continued disbursing funds for SRH/ FP projects through international NGOs or initiatives amounting to about 70.06 million Euros. Part of this contribution still refers to EU's 28 million Euros 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 Euros for the period 2017-2019. In 2016, European institutions disbursed 265.832million Euros to the GFATM, with 13.291 million Euros being counted under the C2030E methodology as going towards SRH/FP.
Also in 2016, European institutions announced a new funding decision amounting to 30 million Euros (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 and 2016, 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.
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’. 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, which is expected to include some SRH/FP.
- Lisbon Treaty: the main legal EU framework
- European Consensus on Development Cooperation
- Cotonou Agreement: overall agreement between EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific states
- Agenda for Change - European Commission document on the future of EU development policy
- 2017 Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions in 2016
- Updated May 2018
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