EU development policy seeks to eradicate poverty in a context of sustainable development. It is a cornerstone of EU relations with the outside world – alongside foreign, security and trade policy (and international aspects of other policies like environment, agriculture and fisheries).
Providing over 50% of all global development aid, the EU is the world's leading donor.
EU action on development is based on the Lisbon Treaty and on the 2005 European Consensus on Development, which commits the EU Council, European Parliament and Commission to a common vision.
The EU focuses on certain sectors of intervention, depending on the needs of partner countries.
The Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) expired at the end of 2015. They have made an enormous contribution in raising public awareness, increasing political will and mobilising resources to end poverty. Find out more about how the EU has contributed to the MDGs in the MDG Brochure 2015.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development builds on these successes but also goes further; incorporating follow-up from the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, and aiming to address poverty eradication together with the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Issues addressed by the MDGs have been integrated into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The EU also promotes Policy Coherence for Development, to maximise the development impact of other EU policies.
The EU is strongly committed to making aid more effective. The European Commission is part of the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.
Based on European values, the EU promotes, in its relations with partners countries, democratic values and practises such as human rights, fundamental freedoms, good governance and the rule of law. Gender equality is an important element of the EU approach.
In 2011 the Commission set out a more strategic EU approach to reducing poverty, including a more targeted and concentrated allocation of funding: the Agenda for Change.