EU development aid goes to around 150 countries in the world, ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. However, in recent years, several developing countries have experienced strong economic growth and have managed to reduce poverty.
Starting in 2014, the EU is therefore phasing out direct aid to large countries such as India and other countries like Malaysia or many Latin American countries. This process is called ‘graduation’. In the period 2014-2020, about 75% of EU support will go to these countries which, in addition, often are hard hit by natural disasters or conflict, something that makes their citizens particularly vulnerable. Moreover, the EU is the only donor worldwide which gives support in all countries that are fragile or suffer from conflict.
2. The EU is helping to improve the lives of millions.
In 2000, countries from all over the world agreed on the Millennium Development Goals, to be achieved by 2015. They range from halving extreme poverty to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and giving primary education to all children. The EU played a leading role in negotiating this vision.
Over the last decade, thanks to EU funding, almost 14 million pupils could go to primary school, more than 70 million people were linked to improved drinking water, and over 7.5 million births were attended by skilled health workers, saving the lives of mothers and babies.
These are just some of the ways the EU is helping to reach the goals, but more needs to be done to make poverty history.
3. EU aid is transparent and it is easy to find out where the money goes.
The EU has repeatedly been ranked among the most transparent aid donors. Giving information about where how much of our aid goes, and on what it is spent, helps tax payers to check that their money is being used wisely. It avoids different donors duplicating each other and helps to prevent corruption and misuse of funds.
There are different tools to find out where EU money goes: The EU Aid Explorer gives you easy access to complete and accurate data on what donors do around the world. The European Commission’s financial transparency system shows who receives funding from the European Commission each year.
4. To prevent fraud and corruption, EU aid is regularly audited and controlled.
5. The EU and its Member States together are the most generous donors of official development aid in the world.
6. Developing countries have a strong say in how EU aid is spent, what will be done and where.
The EU makes sure that its development programmes follow the priorities which governments have for their countries’ own development. The decision of whether to invest funding in, for example, health, schools, or roads is taken in close partnership between the EU and each government – which often then also takes responsibility for managing the programmes and projects.
7. The EU relies on organisations with the right experience to carry out its development projects on the ground.
The EU often gives funding to non-governmental organisations – this could be a local association of female lawyers that helps women to their legal rights or a well-known international organisation such as Amnesty International, in fighting for human rights, for example.
8. The EU involves civil society organisations when it plans its cooperation with partner countries.
When preparing its programmes, the EU does not only work with the governments but also makes sure that civil society organisations are included in the discussions: this could be non-governmental organisations, trade unions, human rights groups, environmental organisations, chambers of commerce and many others. You can find out more in the EU’s communication on Europe’s engagement with civil society in external relations.
9. About 25% of EU aid is given directly to governments so they can do their work, following priorities that they define themselves, in close dialogue with the EU.
This is called “budget support”. It gives the countries the tools to take development into their own hands, for example by reforming and modernising their education or agricultural sector. By putting governments of developing countries in the driving seat, the EU directly supports the country’s own policies and systems so that the results can have a lasting effect.
At the same time, the EU links budget support to a constant dialogue which it has with the government and in which it discusses important topics such as good governance and management of public money. These exchanges also include regular assessments of the results in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.
10. The EU has 139 delegations and offices across the world, more than any EU member state. At the same time its external aid equals less than a tenth of its budget.
The total amount which the EU reserved for external aid in 2013 was €14.86 billion, which is equal to about 9% of the overall budget of the EU. In other words, lifting people out of poverty across the world with the help of European aid costs each European no more than 8 cents per day.
11. In many countries the EU and its Member States combine their development efforts to ensure that we work more hand in hand and don’t do the same thing twice.
12. The EU works hard to ensure that its work in areas such as trade and finance, agriculture, security, climate change, or migration helps overcome poverty in developing countries.
13. EU humanitarian aid and development cooperation are different but work hand in hand.
14. The world has managed to reduce the share of extremely poor people by more than half since 1990.
15. Europeans believe that EU have a responsibility to help people in poor countries, and many are ready to play their part in this.