European Union institutions

Introduction

The 2018 DAC Peer Review praised the European Union (EU)’s strong leadership in mobilising global efforts for sustainable development, the fight against climate change and humanitarian action. In 2017, the EU and its member states adopted the New European Consensus for Development. The Consensus provides a common strategic vision with a focus on poverty reduction and contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The EU’s next budget, the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, and guidance for its implementation, will be central to reaching these objectives.

In addition to the EU’s global leadership, the DAC Peer Review also commended efforts to raise EU citizens’ awareness of global issues. It highlighted the EU’s contributions to development effectiveness, but recommended further upholding ownership and alignment in joint programming and new instruments such as emergency trust funds and the External Investment Plan.

Official development assistance

Collectively with its member states, the European Union constitutes the world’s largest donor. Considered independently, the EU institutions are the fourth largest DAC donor in terms of volume. Unlike DAC member countries, the EU provides almost exclusively bilateral aid, although 20% of this is earmarked support through other multilateral institutions. In volume, the EU institutions are the world’s largest donor on gender equality, and the second largest on aid for trade. However, the EU’s share of untied aid is below average. The 2018 DAC Peer Review recommended a greater focus of allocations to least developed countries (LDCs).

In 2018, the EU institutions provided USD 16.4 billion in total official development assistance (ODA) (preliminary data, current prices), using the new “grant-equivalent” methodology (see the methodological notes for further details) adopted by DAC members on their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. Under the “cash-flow basis” methodology used in the past, 2018 net ODA was USD 17.1 billion, which represented a fall of 1.9% in real terms from 2017, due to a lower level of loans disbursed.

The EU institutions’ share of untied bilateral ODA (excluding administrative costs and in-donor refugee costs) was 74.0% in 2017 (up from 71.8% in 2016), while the DAC country average (excluding the EU institutions) was 82.1%. The grant element of total ODA was 89.2% in 2017. Non-grants represented 26.3% of gross ODA.

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In 2017, 97.8% of gross ODA was provided bilaterally, of which 20.2% was channelled through multilateral organisations (multi-bi/non-core contributions). EU institutions allocated 2.2% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

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In 2017, country programmable aid was 51.5% of bilateral ODA. The DAC country average was 48% (see the methodological notes for further details on country programmable aid). Project-type interventions accounted for 67.4% of this aid.

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In 2017, EU institutions channelled 58.0% of gross bilateral ODA through the public sector (similar to 58.8% in 2016). The share of bilateral ODA channelled through private sector institutions was 10.0%. In 2017, EU institutions channelled USD 250 million through universities or other teaching and research institutions, equal to 1.3% of its gross bilateral ODA. See the methodological notes for further details on channels of delivery.

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In 2017, USD 1.9 billion of gross bilateral ODA was channelled to and through civil society organisations (CSOs). Between 2016 and 2017, ODA channelled to and through CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral aid (from 11.0% to 10.3%). Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and the Civil Society Days.

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In 2017, bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 4.7 billion was allocated to sub-Saharan Africa, USD 1.6 billion to North Africa. Allocations to Asia amounted to USD 3.8 billion and to Europe to USD 4.9 billion.

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In 2017, 34.7% of gross bilateral ODA went to the EU institutions’ top 10 recipients. Their top 10 recipients are mostly middle-income countries, primarily in the EU’s neighbourhood, with allocations to Turkey surpassing ODA to the next five recipients combined. This is notably due to support to refugees and displaced people, in particular the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey related to the Syrian crisis. Support to fragile contexts reached USD 6.3 billion in 2017 (33.6% of gross bilateral ODA). Learn more about support to fragile contexts.

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In 2017, 23.4% of the EU institutions’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 4.4 billion) was allocated to the LDCs. This is similar to 23.1% in 2016. The DAC country average (excluding the EU institutions) for 2017 was 23.5%. Upper middle-income countries received the highest share of bilateral ODA in 2017 (29.2%), noting that 19.0% was unallocated by income group. Within bilateral ODA that is unallocated by country, the EU institutions estimate that between 20 and 30% is directed to the LDCs.

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In 2017, 37.1% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 8.4 billion) was allocated to social infrastructure and services, with a focus on support to government and civil society (USD 4.0 billion). Economic infrastructure and services also received substantial allocations (25.3% or USD 5.8 billion). Humanitarian aid amounted to USD 1.9 billion. In 2017, EU institutions committed USD 30 million of ODA to support developing countries to raise domestic revenue, amounting to 0.14% of bilateral allocable aid. EU institutions also committed USD 8.3 billion (38.8% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2017.

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USD 10.7 billion of gross bilateral allocable ODA supported gender equality. In 2017, 50.2% of the EU institutions’ bilateral sector-allocable aid had gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal or significant objective (up from 44.9% in 2016), compared with the DAC average of 39%. While all actions are screened against the gender marker, a significantly higher share of interventions on social infrastructure and services reflect gender equality. Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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USD 6.3 billion of bilateral ODA commitments supported the environment. In 2017, 29.8% of their gross bilateral allocable aid supported the environment (30.5% in 2016) and 26.0% (USD 5.5 billion) focused on climate change, compared with the respective DAC member averages of 32.6% and 24.9%. EU institutions support both adaptation and mitigation at similar levels. The entirety of allocable bilateral aid is screened against the environment marker. Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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Other financial flows and amounts mobilised from the private sector

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In 2017, the European Union institutions – through the European Investment Bank (EIB) – mobilised USD 2.1 billion from the private sector through credit lines.

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Of the country-allocable private finance mobilised, 99% targeted middle-income countries and 1% the LDCs.

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Private finance mobilised by the EU institutions in 2012-17 mainly related to activities in the banking and financial services (73%); and industry, mining and construction (20%) sectors. Learn more about climate-related development finance.

Institutional set-up

The EU institutions comprise two main actors: the European Commission (responsible for managing 53% of ODA in 2017 and the majority of funds under the European Development Fund) and the EIB (responsible for managing 26% of ODA in 2017). Within the Commission, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) is in charge of formulating overall EU international co-operation and development policy, and covers co-operation with sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. The Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement (DG NEAR) manages co-operation with EU neighbours towards the east and south. The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) is responsible for humanitarian assistance. The EIB operates independently of the Commission. The European External Action Service (EEAS) co-ordinates the EU’s foreign policy, participates in co-operation programming and manages the EU delegations. In order to co-ordinate their actions, all EU institutions as well as EU member states have signed “The New European Consensus on Development”.

Most of the EU institutions’ ODA spending is, for the purposes of ODA reporting, imputed to EU Member States, i.e. Member States’ multilateral aid data as well as all information including these data (such as the aid share to the LDCs) include part of the EU institutions’ spending. The ODA provided through the European Investment Bank’s own resources is not imputed to Member States and is additional to Member States’ ODA.

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Evaluation system

The Evaluation Unit under the DG DEVCO is in charge of the evaluation of the EU’s co-operation and development programmes in third countries, with the exception of enlargement candidate countries, neighbourhood countries and humanitarian aid. It is an independent unit that has organisationally been part of the Task Force on Knowledge, Performance and Results. The unit manages centralised geographical and thematic evaluation, as well as evaluations of instruments, while programme and project evaluations are decentralised but are supported and co-ordinated by the Evaluation Unit. Read more about the EU’s evaluation system.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of EU development co-operation.

Performance against the commitments for effective development co-operation

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Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Additional resources

2018 DAC Peer Review of the European Union: www.oecd.org/dac/oecd-development-co-operation-peer-reviews-european-union-2018-9789264309494-en.htm

European Commission, International Cooperation and Development: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/node/22_en

European Commission, European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations: https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/node_en

European Commission, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: https://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en

European External Action Service: https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage_en

European Investment Bank: https://www.eib.org/en/index.htm

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1961.

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