Article 208 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex Article 177 TEC) affirms that the Union policy in the field of development cooperation should be conducted within the framework of the principles and objectives of the Union's external action. The Union's development cooperation policy and that of the Member States complement and reinforce each other, taking account of the objectives they have approved in the context of the United Nations and other competent international organisations. The Union development cooperation policy shall have as its primary objective the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt the measures necessary for the implementation of development cooperation policy, which may relate to multiannual cooperation programmes with developing countries or programmes with a thematic approach (Article 209 TFEU, ex Article 179 TEC).
Article 215 of the TFEU (ex Article 301 TEC) provides for the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries, thus allowing the European Union to apply sanctions or restrictive measures to countries which do not respect international law or the rights of their own citizens. Indeed, within the framework of the EU cooperation policy, the Union provides financial aid for the implementation of both development cooperation operations and other operations which contribute to the general objective of developing and consolidating democracy and the rule of law and to that of respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms in third countries. In addition, the EU provides financial assistance and appropriate expertise aimed at promoting gender equality into all its development cooperation policies and interventions in developing countries. Finally, the EU promotes the full integration of the environmental dimension in the development process and, in particular, the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests and other forests in developing countries [Regulation 1905/2006, last amended by Regulation 1341/2011].
The European Union has taken, at the very highest political level, ambitious development commitments by deciding to raise its aid gradually to a level of 0.7% of gross national income by 2015 (€164 per European citizen a year) and taking the requisite steps to increase the overall effectiveness of EU aid as a whole. On 15 October 2007, the Council agreed a strategy on aid for trade that includes clear figures on the amount of aid potentially available, as well as clear dates for when the funds will be available [COM/2007/158]. The strategy is aimed at enabling all developing countries, particularly the least developed ones, to better integrate into the world trade system and to use trade more effectively and in a sustainable way in the eradication of poverty.
The EU currently has an impressive store of development aid instruments, spanning the Convention with the ACP countries, special relations with the Overseas Countries and Territories, aid for non-associated countries, the Generalised System of Tariff Preferences, participation in world commodity agreements and aid provided through non-government organisations fighting global problems such as hunger. The decentralised cooperation approach places local actors at the focal point of implementation and hence pursues the dual aims of gearing operations to needs and making them viable [Regulation 1905/2006, last amended by Regulation 1341/2011]. The EU participates fully in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank initiative for heavily indebted ACP countries by helping them reduce the net value of their obligations [Decision 98/453]. This variety of forms which development aid takes clearly demonstrates the EU's commitment to an outward-looking approach. In fact, the EU and its Member States provide some 55% of all development assistance to developing countries in the world, whereas the United States provide less than 20%. Moreover, the reform of the common agricultural policy tends to minimise its distorting effects on trade, make it more environment friendly and improve coherence with development policy [see sections 21.2, 21.4.4 and 23.5].
The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing EU aid for development cooperation in the ACP States and OCTs. Even though a heading has been reserved for the Fund in the Union budget since 1993 following a request by the European Parliament, the EDF does not yet come under the Union's general budget. It is funded by the Member States, is subject to its own financial rules and is managed by a specific committee. Each EDF is concluded for a period of around five years. The Council regulation on the implementation of the 10th EDF under the ACP-EC partnership agreement is based on an EU internal agreement on the EDF for financing under the 2008-13 financial framework for European aid and is aimed at improving programming and decision-making procedures [Regulation 617/2007 and Regulation 215/2008, last amended by Regulation 370/2011].
To accompany the introduction of a new political and administrative structure for assistance and cooperation, the EC/EU replaced the pre-existing range of financial instruments for the delivery of external assistance with a simpler, more efficient framework comprising six instruments only, four of them new [COM/2004/626]. The four new instruments are an instrument for pre-accession assistance [see sections 12.3.4 and 25.2], a European neighbourhood and partnership instrument, an instrument for development cooperation, and an instrument for stability [see section 25.4]. The two existing instruments, for humanitarian aid and for macrofinancial assistance, do not require any changes and will therefore be maintained in the financial perspective 2007-13 [COM/2004/101, see section 24.7]. The rules on access to EU external assistance instruments govern specifically: access by persons; the hiring of experts; arrangements for the implementation of reciprocity; provisions concerning operations financed through an international organisation; and humanitarian aid [Regulation 1905/2006, last amended by Regulation 1341/2011]. The EU external aid is managed by 78 Commission delegations in the world.
Taking account of the objectives agreed within the context of the United Nations and other competent international organisations, the common aid to development policy, must contribute to the general objective of consolidating democracy and the rule of law, the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the developing countries. In a declaration of 25 May 1993, the European Community and its Member States reserved the right to take measures, which might even involve suspending aid if the democratisation process was halted or if serious violations of human rights occurred. In fact, the EU has taken measures such as altering the content of aid programmes, withholding the signatures necessary for the implementation of aid, or even suspending it altogether, while taking care to avoid harming the people of the country concerned. Thus, the Community has withdrawn the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) entitlement from Myanmar (Burma) and has taken measures against the military regime in place [Regulation 552/97 and Regulation 401/2013]. In implementation of the mandate provided by UN Security Council Resolution 1484 (2003), the European Union is conducting a military operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo to stabilise the security and humanitarian situation in the Ituri area [Joint Action 2003/423 and Decision 2003/432]. Particular attention is given to population policies and programmes in the developing countries, notably the spacing of children and more accessible and better reproductive health care [Regulation 1905/2006, last amended by Regulation 1341/2011].
Restrictive measures, including an arms embargo, are imposed against the Congo [Decision 2010/788], Côte d'Ivoire [Decision 2010/656], the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [Decision 2013/183 and Regulation 329/2007, last amended by Regulation 696/2013], Liberia [Common Position 2008/109 and Regulation 234/2004], Zimbabwe [Decision 2011/101 and Regulation 314/2004, last amended by Regulation 298/2013], Somalia [Decision 2010/231, last amended by Decision 2013/201 and Regulation 147/2003, last amended by by Regulation 431/2013], Eritrea [Decision 2010/127and Regulation 667/2010], Guinea [Decision 2010/638 and regulation 1284/2009], Tunisia [Decision 2011/72 and Regulation 101/2011], Egypt [Decision 2011/172 and Regulation 270/2011], Libya [Decision 2011/137, last amended by Decision 2013/182 and Regulation 204/2011, last amended by Regulation 364/2013], Iran [Decision 2010/413, last amended by Decision 2013/270 and Regulation 267/2012] and Syria [Decision 2012/739, last amended by Decision 2013/255 and Regulation 36/2012, last amended by Regulation 697/2013.