Programming is an essential decision-making process through which the Commission together with the European External Action Service (EEAS), the partner countries and regions define development assistance strategies, priorities and funding allocations.
Programming also implements the Agenda for Change Communication, which focuses on increasing the impact of EU development policy by proceeding on the basis of the developing countries’ and regions’ own development policies and plans and align as much as possible on their priorities. It also includes a more targeted and concentrated allocation of funding. As a result for example, in the 2014-2020 period geographical programmes should focus on maximum 3 sectors per country/regions.
The Commission also aims to ensure coherence and complementarity with efforts in related EU policy areas, such as trade, environment, migration, employment and agriculture.
It also seeks complementarity between different donors. To improve results by dividing the work in the most efficient way, the EU and its member states have started to move towards joint programming. This means that they define together which donor should work in which sector. The member states have mandated the EU to take on the role of coordinator and facilitator.The EU started joint programming in selected countries in 2012.
More information on the 2014-2020 Programming processes as well as the programming guidelines can be found here
As a result of this collaboration and following these principles, the following documents are elaborated:
- Multi-annual (including EDF National and Regional) Indicative Programmes, detailing specific objectives and highlighting a number of focal areas for funding as well as Thematic Multi-annual programmes.
- Annual Action Programmes for each year of the programming period. They specify objectives, fields of intervention, expected results, management procedures and total amounts of allocated funding.
- Annual Work Programmes for Grants for each year of the programming period. They specify the legislation, the objectives and the schedule of calls for proposal, with an indicative amount and the expected result.
The Commission presents the strategy papers, indicative programmes and annual action programmes to all EU member states. The majority have to give a positive opinion before the Commission can make a final decision. The European Parliament has the power of scrutiny over assistance financed by the EU budget. Starting from the 11th EDF, the Commission and the EEAS are also voluntarily submitting all EDF programming documents to the EP for comment.