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 2018 the EU and its Member States continue to be the world's leading provider of ODA with an overall amount of 74.4 billion EUR, which accounts for a slight reduction compared to 2017. The European institutions alone remained the fourth biggest donor globally, with an indicative contribution of 13.2 billion EUR, following the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Policies & funding
The EU institutions remain committed to promote SRHR in international cooperation and development policy. This is reflected in various major policy documents, most notably the new European Consensus on Development revised in 2017. As the main policy paper defining a shared vision and framework for action in development cooperation, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Consensus reinstates strong commitment to SRH/FP.
This commitment is also reflected in other key development policies, such as the EU’s Gender Action Plan II (GAP II), which provides the framework for the European Commission (EC), the European External Action Services and the EU Member States in their approach to gender equality through external action. Currently the EU is discussing on the GAP III. For the last 20 years, the relation between the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the EU has been governed by the Cotonou Partnership agreement. This agreement will end on 31st of December 2020 and negotiations on its successor are ongoing. While the EU’s negotiation mandate contains strong commitments towards SRH/FP, the final outcome of the negotiations is not yet clear.
At the end of 2020, the EU’s current long-term budget or Multiannual Financial Framework will come to an end. Under the new MFF (2021–2027), currently being discussed, development cooperation will be funded by the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). While discussions on this instrument are still ongoing, all 3 positions of the European Commission, the European Parliament (EP) and the Council contain strong references to SRH/FP in the general text and the annexes on geographic and thematic programmes.
Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Brexit could cause challenges to EU international cooperation in the coming years. 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 “2019 Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions in 2018”, the European Commission disbursed a total of 13.2 billion EUR in ODA, which is a slight decrease compared to the 13.34 billion EUR in 2017. From these, only EUR 19.94 million went to population policies/ programmes and reproductive health, which is significantly lower than the EUR 133 million from 2017. Similarly, the EUR 571.08 million that was disbursed on health in 2018 is considerably lower than the EUR 730.56 million from 2017.
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 54 million EUR in 2017. This is includes amongst others support for the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting, for UNFPA’s humanitarian work and for the UNFPA supplies fund. The EU has supported UNFPA’s Supplies Programme since 2012 and has renewed its commitment for the period 2018-2020 with 25 million EUR. Given that 20 million has already been disbursed in 2018, we can expect significantly lower amounts in the next 2 years. Other multilaterals that are also of relevance to SRH/FP include UNICEF and WHO.
Similar to 2017, the European Institutions continued disbursing funds for SRH/ FP projects through international NGOs or initiatives. At the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, the EC confirmed the launch of 29 million EUR call for proposals focusing on adolescent SRHR early 2020.
The European institutions are the sixth-largest donor to the GFATM (Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria). Since its creation in 2002 the European Institutions have committed over more than 2.6 billion EUR, which accounts for around 5% of all contributions. For the period 2017 – 2019, the EC had committed up to 470 million EUR and in 2019 at the G7 summit it has pledged another 550 million EUR for the period 2020 - 2022. In 2017, the European institutions disbursed more than 202 million EUR to the GFATM, with 10.14 million EUR being counted under the C2030E methodology as going towards SRH/FP.
Since 2015, the EC has been setting up different Trust Funds as new pooled funding mechanisms, which reflect how EU development policy has been increasingly influenced by migration and security issues. The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, although mostly focused on migration, has some indicators that refer directly to SRH/FP. However, finding more information under the trust fund to SRH/FP is difficult as SRH/FP is often only one of the sub-objectives without earmarked allocations.
The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, launched during the UN General Assembly in 2017, aims to eliminate violence against women and girls with an initial amount of 500 million EUR for targeted, large-scale investments. In Africa, Spotlight aims to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence, including harmful practices. The programme worth 250 million EUR is under implementation across Liberia, Malawi, Mali Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It will also include a regional component to scale up existing initiatives on fighting harmful practices and for joint activities with the Africa Union. In Asia, the Spotlight Initiative will contribute 25 million EUR on ending female trafficking and labour exploitation. An additional 32 million EUR are devoted to projects addressing gender-based violence in forgotten crises. In Latin America, the 50 million EUR national initiative focuses on ending feminicide. Both the Pacific and the Caribbean regional initiatives (50 million EUR each) focus on tackling domestic violence.
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’. At the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 for example, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to SRHR as stated in the New EU Consensus on Development. In addition, at that summit the EC has stressed the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive SRH information, education and health-care services and committed to continuing to support women’s movements and other human rights defenders.
- Lisbon Treaty: The main legal EU Framework
- The New European Consensus on Development: ‘Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future’
- EU Negotiation Mandate for a Partnership Agreement between the EU and its Member States of the one part, and with countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the other part
- EU Gender Action Plan II – Annual Implementation Report 2017
- EU Gender Action Plan II – Annual Implementation Report 2018
- 2018 Annual Report - On the implementation of the European Union’s instruments for financing external actions in 2017
- Council Conclusions on Gender in Development (2015)
Updated May 2020
Rights under pressure September 14, 2020
COVID-19 will impact European development aid July 15, 2020
- European Institutions
- United Kingdom