EU development policy

As a Member State of the European Union, Finland supports development in different parts of the world. The primary goals of European development policy are eradication of poverty and promotion of security and stability. In 2022, Finland channelled 18 per cent of its development cooperation appropriations through the European Union.

An aid worker pictured has a big cylinder hat and an EU flag on her back that reads Humanitarian Aid. Opposite her stands a black man with a cylindrical hat and a mask. Behind them, children peek out the door.

The European Union has supported the construction of a refugee reception facility, completed in the Eastern Congo in 2021. Photo: Mathias Eick / EU.

Development policy is a part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Finnish and EU development policy have largely coinciding goals, such as the promotion of human rights, democracy and good governance, and both are increasingly directing assistance to the least developed and fragile countries.

In 2017, the EU and its Member States signed a statement on EU development policy, called the European Consensus on Development. Its primary goal is poverty eradication. The Consensus is based on the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Active participation in decision-making on development policy in the EU provides Finland greater opportunities than its size would suggest to shape the future of international development policy and to influence the implementation of development cooperation in different parts of the globe. At the same time, this is part of Finland’s multilateral cooperation. As an example of this, Finland attends international negotiations as part of the EU.

As an EU member state, Finland supports development in different parts of the world

The EU is a superpower in development cooperation. Its partners include about 160 countries, regions and organisations in various parts of the world. In 2021, the EU and its 27 Member States allocated approximately EUR 70 billion for development cooperation activities. This represents 43 percent of all Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the world. The Member States channelled EUR 17 billion of their development funding to developing countries through various EU institutions.

Development cooperation is one of the shared competences. This means that the European Union and each of its Member States practice their own development cooperation and development policies. The Member States’ development cooperation complements and supports the development cooperation carried out by the Union.

The Member States agree between themselves about the common practices and principles that give guidance to the implementation of development policy in all EU Member States. Finland plays a part in this process.

What is achieved through EU development cooperation?

The European Commission presents the achievements reached by 2019 in its Annual Report on the implementation of the EU’s External Action instruments, which was published in 2021. For example, the EU:

  • supported efforts that led to better water and sanitation services for more than a million people in Irbid Governorate in Jordan
  • supported Africa’s Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) led by the African Union, which aims to produce 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2020  
  • contributed to the enrolment of 77 million children in primary school
  • participated in responding to 20 disasters in, among other things, in Bolivia, Guatemala, Israel and Lebanon, through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism

Read more from the European Commission’s Annual Report (available also in Finnish and Swedish):

Finland exerts influence in the EU to make the Union pay wider attention to the impacts of it actions on developing countries. For instance, EU decisions and agreements in such areas as taxation, trade and agriculture have significant direct or indirect effects on developing countries.

How does Finland participate in the EU’s decision-making?

Finland seeks to play a role at different levels to bring questions regarded important by Finland to the fore in EU development policy.

  • Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development attends the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) when it meets to make decisions in EU development ministers configuration.
  • As for the preparation of decisions adopted in the Council of Ministers, Finland participates in working parties meeting at senior official level (including the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) and the ACP Working Party, which concentrates on cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries).
  • Finland is involved in the implementation and monitoring of development cooperation projects and programmes by working in the committees responsible for EU external relations funding.
  • Finland's missions in different countries participate in the coordination of the EU's development cooperation and in consultations and expert-level meetings related to the EU's country strategies

In Finland, the Unit for Development Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is primarily responsible for preparative work and coordination of the national positions related to EU development policy and for communications about these to Parliament.

EU development policy is implemented by the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS)

The European Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships (INTPA) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) are responsible for the formulation of European development policy and for delivering aid. The EU has 140 missions in different countries across the globe. They are responsible for the management and monitoring of the EU’s development cooperation projects in the partner countries.

In 2021–2027, development cooperation will be funded through the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI - Global Europe). Finland’s support for the programme in 2021–2027 amounts to EUR 79.5 million. The annual sum varies between EUR 12 and 15 billion.

Finland and the European Union are working together in the Rural Village Water Resources Management Project (RVWRMP) in Nepal. Finland’s contribution to the project is EUR 20 million in 2016–2022 

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