EU development policy


As a Member State of the European Union, Finland supports development in different parts of the world. The primary aim of EU development policy is eradication of poverty and promotion of security and stability. In 2016, Finland channelled 22 per cent of its development cooperation appropriations through the European Union.

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). 

Participating in the EU development policy and its decision making 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, it 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 2015, the EU and its Member States allocated approximately EUR 68 billion to development cooperation. This accounts for more than half of all Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the world, of which EUR 10.3 billion was channelled via the EU.

Development cooperation is one of the shared competencies. 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 EU.

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?

According to a report published in July 2016, which was based on the EU International Cooperation and Development Results Framework, the following results for instance have been achieved:

  • Over 29 million children have enrolled at school.
  • Over 4.5 million women and small children have benefited from projects that promote food security and sustainable agriculture.
  • More than 300,000 people have been trained in courses supporting employability, productivity and competitiveness.
  • Over 1.1 million births were attended by skilled health personnel, helping to reduce child mortality.

Read more from the European Commission’s Results Framework:

In the EU, Finland also contributes to Union-level action so that its wider impact on developing countries be also taken into account. For instance, EU decisions and agreements in fields such as taxation, trade and agriculture carry major immediate or indirect consequences for 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 the EU Development Ministers configuration.
  • In the preparation of decisions that are adopted in the Council of Ministers Finland participates in working parties meeting at senior official level. These include the Working Party on Development Cooperation (CODEV) 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 the financing instruments.

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 information about these to Parliament.

The EU development cooperation is implemented by the European Commission and the European External Action Service

The European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) and the EEAS are responsible for designing European development policy and delivering aid throughout the world. The EU has 140 missions and offices in different countries across the globe. They are responsible for the management and monitoring of the development cooperation projects in the partner countries.

Two examples of EU projects: Food security in Ethiopia and promotion of girls’ position in India

In Ethiopia, the EU is one of the financiers of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), which is a large project aiming to improve the safety nets and food security of vulnerable people.  At the same time, it helps people to build resilience to crises caused by climate change. People capable of working are provided temporary paid jobs to improve their financial situation. The most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, are given cash assistance. In 2015–2018, the EU’s share of the financing was EUR 11 million. The project is implemented by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which belongs to the World Bank. 

In India, the EU supports the improvement of girls’ position. Exceptionally few girls are born in relation to boys in the country. This is caused by selected termination of pregnancies based on the gender of the foetus. The EU project is implemented by Plan International and its aim is to increase respect for girls. EU’s support for the project in 2015-2017 amounted to EUR 0.9 million.

In the EU, funding for development cooperation comes mainly from two different financing instruments:

  • The Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) is the largest of the EU’s external action financing instruments and it forms part of the EU general budget. In 2014–2020, over EUR 19 billion was channelled from the DCI to EU development cooperation in, for instance Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
  • The European Development Fund (EDF): Development cooperation in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) is financed from the EDF, which remains outside of the EU budget, based on the Cotonou Agreement. All EU Member States participate in the EDF. The 11th EDF covers the years 2014–2020 and amounts to EUR 30.5 billion.

Content administrator