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International Cooperation and Development

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International Cooperation and Development

European Union

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government
of the European Union

The Directorate General International Cooperation and Development is one of the departments of the European Commission. It operates under the authority of the European Commissioner for International Cooperation & Development, Neven Mimica.[1]


  • Background 1
  • Development policy 2
  • From policy to action 3
  • Promoting joint effort 4
  • Funding 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Directorate General Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid was formed on 1 January 2011 following the merger of the EuropeAid Cooperation Office (AIDCO) with the Directorate General for Development and Relations with ACP States (DEV).[2][3] AIDCO had been founded on 1 January 2001 with the mission of implementing the EU external aid programmes around the world.[4] At that time, DG DEV and the Directorate General for External Relations (RELEX) were responsible for policy and programming.

Following the creation of EuropeAid in 2011, Director-General Fokion Fotiadis[5] was responsible for the overall realisation of the DG's mission, which consists in the programming and implementation of the European Commission's external aid instruments[6] financed by the European Union budget and the European Development Funds. In November 2013, Fernando Frutuoso de Melo succeeded Fokion Fotiadis as Director-General of the Directorate General.

EuropeAid focused on maximising the value and impact of aid funding by making sure support provided in a manner which complies with EU development objectives and the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals in a speedy and accountable fashion.[7] Effective implementation and delivery of aid also helps the Commission and the EU as a whole to attain a higher profile on the world stage. The European Union is the world’s largest aid donor.

DG Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid was reformed into current form on 1 January 2015.

Development policy

DG International Cooperation and Development formulates the European Union's development policy abroad. Its mission is to help reduce and ultimately eradicate poverty in developing countries through the promotion of sustainable development, democracy, peace and security.[8]

It works on policy formulation at a global and sectoral level. The main intervention areas covered are: Trade and regional integration, Environment and the sustainable management of natural resources, Infrastructure, communications and transport, Water and energy, Rural development, Governance, democracy and human rights, Peace and security, Human development, Social cohesion and employment.[9] EU development action is based on the European Consensus on Development, which was endorsed on 20 December 2005 by EU Member States, the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission.[10]

From policy to action

When implementing projects, it takes account of EU policy strategies and long-term programmes for the delivery of aid. It translates policies into practical actions and develops new ways of delivering aid, such as budget support[11] and through sectoral approaches.[12] It also issues guidelines and makes evaluations[13] of aid implementation. In addition, it is responsible for the proper management of funds and must use clear and transparent tendering and contracting procedures. The programming cycle and responsibilities have evolved with the creation of the European External Action Service EEAS.[14] The EEAS has a key role in the programming of geographic instruments with EuropeAid and the EU Delegations. [15]

Directorate-General is responsible for all the steps of an aid delivery project:[16] after identifying needs, it carries out feasibility studies and prepares all the necessary financial decisions and controls. It then moves on to drawing up the required tendering, monitoring and evaluation procedures. EuropeAid often publishes these evaluations in its website, aiming to improve management, in particular by taking into account the lessons of past public actions and to reinforce capacity to account for, and to ensure, better transparency.

This institution is a decentralised organisation. Two out of three Commission staff members working on aid implementation are based in the field. That is why most of the preparatory and implementation work is done through the EU Delegations[17] in the beneficiary countries. Directorate-General is made up of more than 43 units divided into nine directorates [18] attached to the Director General.

Promoting joint effort

To ensure coherence, complementarity and coordination in implementing external assistance programmes worldwide, DG DEVCO works in close collaboration with its various partners.[19] The overall aim is to make external aid more effective.[20] member states of the European Union are all important actors in this field.


Directorate-General awards grants and contracts to implement projects or activities that relate to the European Union’s external aid programmes. For more details consult the "Funding Pages".[21] To ensure that EuropeAid's work to improve people’s lives is recognised, a set of visibility guidelines[22] have been produced. These guidelines ensure that aid projects acknowledge the funding support they receive from Commission budgets. They also help to raise the general profile of the EU across the world.

Development aid is financed directly by the EU budget (70%) as part of the financial instruments for external action and also by the European Development Fund (EDF) (30%).[23] The EU's external action financing is divided into 'geographic' and 'thematic' instruments.[23] The 'geographic' instruments provide aid through the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI, €16.9 billion, 2007–2013), which must spend 95% of its budget on overseas development assistance (ODA), and from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which contains some relevant programmes.[23] The EDF (€22.7 bn, 2008–2013) is made up of voluntary contributions by EU Member States. There is currently a debate on whether to 'budgetise' the EDF.[23] The perceived advantages include:[23]

  • contributions would be based on GNI and this may increase the currently voluntary contributions
  • the harmonisation of EU budget and EDF administration might decrease administration costs and increase aid effectiveness
  • an all-Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific countries geographic strategy is no longer relevant as programmes are more localised to regions or country-level
  • there would be increase democratic control and parliamentary scrutiny

The perceived disadvantages are that:[23]

  • 90% of EDF resources reach low-income countries as opposed to less than 40% of aid from the EU budget development instruments
  • a loss of aid predictability and aid quality as the EU budget is annual, unlike the 6-year budget of the EDF

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ van Seters, J. and H. Klavert. 2011. EU development cooperation after the Lisbon Treaty: People, institutions and global trends. (Discussion Paper 123). Maastricht: ECDPM. [also available in French]
  15. ^ Görtz, S. and N. Keijzer. 2012. Reprogramming EU development cooperation for 2014-2020 - Key moments for partner countries, EU Delegations, member states and headquarters in 2012. (ECDPM Discussion Paper 129)
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ [4]
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c d e f Mikaela Gavas 2010. Financing European development cooperation: the Financial Perspectives 2014-2020. London: Overseas Development Institute

External links

  • Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid
  • Organisational Structure
  • EuropeAid Partners
  • EuropeAid Funding Page
  • Financing Instruments
  • European Development Fund
  • EuropeAid Visibility Guidelines
  • Excerpt from an EU promotion video on Global Assistance (development aid)
  • European Union Delegations
  • DG Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)
  • ACP Programming
  • Millennium Development Goals
  • Commissioner Andris Pielbags
  • Commissioner Štefan Füle
  • Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton
  • European External Action Service (EEAS)
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