EU development policy seeks to foster the sustainable development of developing countries, with the primary aim of eradicating poverty. It is a cornerstone of EU relations with the outside world and contributes to the objectives of EU external action – 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 and its Member States are collectively the world's leading donor.
EU action on development is based on the EU treaties and on the 2006 European Consensus on Development, which commits the EU Council, European Parliament and Commission to a common vision. 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. Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the international community at the UN Summit in September 2015, the EU is now working towards a new European Consensus on Development as a new common vision for development policy for the EU and its Member States.
The Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs), which expired at the end of 2015, 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 of the MDGs 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.