• European Institutions

    • [Image: European Institutions]


    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 recipient of Official Development Assistance (ODA) worldwide. In 2015 the EU and its Member States reached the highest level recorded to date of ODA, amounting to 68 billion Euros in 2014, versus the 58.2 billion Euros disbursed in 2014, as per the OECD[1]. The European Institutions alone remained the fourth biggest donor globally, following the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany[2]. 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 2015.

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    Policies & funding

    The upcoming years will be fundamental to ensuring European Institutions maintain a high level of commitment to RH/FP, both political and financial.  While the institutions are currently reflecting on how to implement the 2030 sustainable development agenda, which is linked to a revision of EU development policy (i.e. the EU Consensus on Development), and of the partnership between EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, EU funding will also be subject to a midterm review.   This will be the case for the European Development Fund (EDF) and the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), which are traditionally the main funding sources to RH/FP.

    European institutions remain committed to RH/FP, as can be seen by the adoption of a sustainable development package by the European Commission in late November. This includes i) a Communication on next steps for a sustainable European future [1], ii) a proposal for a revision of the European Consensus on Development [2] and iii) a post-Cotonou framework on the future relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States [3] .  All these documents, namely the last two, include some level of renewed commitment to RH/FP. This commitment to RH/FP is also evident in funding decisions: e.g. in 2015 the EC committed to a new phase of the EU-WHO Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Partnership (28 million Euros between 2016 and 2018), which is expected to be executed in line with the Council position on RH/FP [4]. The European Parliament has also committed to RH/FP in several resolutions regarding EU development policy and humanitarian assistance. 

    In 2015 the EC set up different Trust Funds as new funding mechanisms that would pool resources from different sources including EU Members States and European countries. The establishment of these new mechanisms reflects how EU development policy has been increasingly influenced by migration and security issues. It is however too early to properly assess the impact these new mechanisms will have on EU funding for RH/FP. 

    Finally, the EU is also expected to face a massive challenge 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.


    According to the EU’s ‘Annual Report on Development and External Assistance Policies and Implementation, 2016[3], the EU disbursed a total of 10.36 billion Euros for ODA[4] From these, 89.66 million Euros were spent on population assistance and 400.07 million Euro on health (25% more than in the previous year). Disbursement to these two sectors hence increased in 2015, despite overall reduction of ODA.  African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries received more than 50% of total ODA for population polices/programmes and reproductive health from the EU institutions under the European Development Fund, as a result of the EU’s 1 billion Euro MDG Initiative from 2010[5](disbursements in this instrument have been significantly delayed).

    In 2015 in terms of commitments, the EU pledged in total EUR 13.94 billion Euros to ODA – an increase of approximately 35%, when compared to 8.95 billion in 2014. This is justified by the fact that 2014 was the first year for commitments under the EU multi annual financial framework 2014-2020, being followed by a steadier rhythm.


    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 16.3 million Euros in 2015. None of these funds however were allocated to UNFPA’s Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security. Other multilaterals that are also of relevance to RH/FP include UNICEF and WHO (under which EU voluntary contributions are targeted to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, among others).

    The EC also announced new commitments in 2015 that are relevant to RH/FP, namely 6 million Euros for the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage; 11 million Euros for the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on "Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting [FGM/C)” and 2 million Euros to UNFPA’s programme to “Prevent son preference and gender-biased sex selection”.


    In general, the Commission provides approximately 500 million Euros per year 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 2015, the European Institutions continued disbursing funds for RH/ FP projects through international NGOs or initiatives amounting to a total of 19.92 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), with a pledge of 370 million Euros for the period 2014-2016. From these, 185.5 million Euros were disbursed in 2015, with 103.9 million Euros being counted under the C2015E methodology as going towards SRH/FP. This brings EU’s contribution to population assistance through international initiatives up to just over 122 million Euros in 2015.

    Finally, the EU provides a significant amount of funding to RH/FP through its research instruments, disbursing various amounts to organisations such as the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP), which develops research on HIV/AIDS[7] . European institutions also spent approximately 3.9 million Euros on research for microbicides in 2015.

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    Internationally vocal

    In 2015, during the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, the EU recommitted to the collective target of 0.7% of ODA/GNI, with the new deadline of 2030.  In the Council’s position prior to that Conference, the EU recommitted to ensuring access to basic services such as health and to promote gender equality as a means and an end in itself.

    The EU was also considered to have played a prominent role in shaping the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and SDGs, adopted in 2015. The European institutions have in several occasions confirmed their commitment to ‘lead by example’, having confirmed ongoing efforts to adequately implement the Agenda, both internally and externally.

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    Updated January 2017