Overview

Today, 1.5 billion people live in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS). The world’s poorest populations are increasingly concentrated in fragile countries, and these countries remain the farthest away from meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

In fragile and conflict-affected states, state structures are weak or failing, and the social contract is broken because the state is unable or unwilling to perform its basic functions of

  • upholding the rule of law
  • protecting human rights and basic freedoms
  • ensuring the security and safety of its population
  • reducing poverty
  • delivering public services and managing resources
  • ensuring legitimate access to political power in a fair and transparent way

However, the overall global situation may change. Some countries which have been fragile in the past have become responsible and influential members of the international community with dynamic economies. 

Other countries, however, have slipped back deeper into poverty, conflict and insecurity. The transition out of fragility can take a long time, as basic governance transformations may take decades - about 20-40 years.

Challenges for aid delivery

EU bilateral aid contributions to fragile and conflict-affected states, which amounted to around €2.7bn in 2012, accounted for more than half of the total EU development aid (excluding humanitarian aid) in that year.

Implementing cooperation programmes and delivering aid in situations of fragility and crisis is very challenging. Nevertheless, the EU seeks to deliver speedy, flexible and effective assistance, ensuring maximum impact for EU resources.