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 2020, Finland channelled 23 per cent of its development cooperation appropriations through the European Union.

EU flags at a market square.
Photo: UM Eurooppatiedotus

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 2020, the EU and its 27 Member States allocated approximately EUR 67 billion for development cooperation activities.  This accounts for almost half of all Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the world, of which EUR 17 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 the European Commission's 2018 Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions in 2016, examples of results attributable to EU-funded development cooperation projects that ended in 2016 include: 

  • 165 000 000 insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed, to prevent the spread of malaria.
  • 1 103 000 people were provided with access to sustainable energy services.
  • 84 000 teachers were trained, providing a foundation for future learning and skills 
  • 4 100 km of roads were constructed, rehabilitated or maintained to provide better access to transportation, particularly for the most disadvantaged groups.

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.
  • As for the preparation of decisions adopted in the Council of Ministers, Finland participates in working parties meeting at senior official level (including 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.
  • Finland's missions in different countries participated 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 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 European External Action Service (EEAS) are responsible for the formulation of European development policy and for delivering aid. 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: Renewable electricity to Guinea-Bissau, better healthcare to South Sudan

  • Guinea-Bissau in western Africa has fallen behind the rest of the continent in electrification. The EU is now supporting the country in the provision of renewable energy sources especially in the rural areas. A growing number of families have now access to electricity thanks to water and solar energy. In the region of Gabú in east Guinea-Bissau, households have been provided affordable solar home systems (SHS). More than 30,000 people have benefited from the SHS, enabling them to have lighting and to use mobile phones and other electrical appliances. 
  • In South Sudan, improved healthcare systems help people to stay healthier and to live longer. In 2012–2016, a total of 400,000 children under the age of one year were vaccinated. Over 610,000 childbirths were assisted by trained healthcare professionals. The EU has also provided funding for work against such communicable diseases as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis.

In 2014–2020, the EU will contribute to development cooperation mainly from two different financing instruments:

  • The Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) is the largest of the EU’s external action financing instruments and forms part of the EU general budget. In 2014–2020, over EUR 19 billion will be 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 The EDF amounts to EUR 30.5 billion for the years 2014–2020.

The EU is currently negotiating its future Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027. The European Commission has proposed a broad instrument that would include, among other things, the current development cooperation instrument and the European Development Fund.


Content administrator