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.
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 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 year 2015 was designated the ‘European Year for Development’ with the motto ‘Our world, our dignity, our future’ [Decision 472/2014].
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 11th EDF under the ACP-EC partnership agreement is based on an EU internal agreement on the EDF for financing under the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework [see section 3.4] and is aimed at improving programming and decision-making procedures [Regulation 2015/323, last amended by Regulation 2016/888].
Under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) the Union may finance: (a) geographic programmes aimed at supporting development cooperation with developing countries that are included in the list of recipients of official development assistance (ODA) established by the OECD/DAC, except for countries eligible for Union funding under other European instruments; (b) thematic programmes to address development-related global public goods and challenges and support civil society organisations and local authorities in partner countries; and (c) a Pan-African programme to support the strategic partnership between Africa and the Union [Regulation 233/2014]. The financial envelope of the DCI for the period 2014-2020 is 19.7 billion EUR. The primary objective of the DCI is the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty. Consistently with the primary objective the DCI contributes to: fostering sustainable economic, social and environmental development; and consolidating and supporting democracy, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and the relevant principles of international law.
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].