EU development co-operation: improving but still cumbersome


24/04/2012 - The European Union is a major player in global development, co-ordinating coherent actions amongst its 27 member states and providing direct support to developing countries. Total net ODA by all 27 EU member states was USD 73.6 billion in 2011. Grants by EU institutions totalled USD 12.6 billion.


The DAC’s Review of the Development Co-operation Policies and Programmes of the European Union notes that, since the last review 5 years ago, the EU has taken steps to make its aid more effective and give it more impact.  These steps included organisational restructuring, streamlining the financial process, improving co-ordination, and working more with civil society.


However, the Review also notes that more progress is needed in a number of areas.  It says the EU must: clarify the responsibilities of the EU institutions working on development; lower the administrative burden on EU staff and developing countries; monitor and communicate development results; and draw-up a coherent approach to working with developing countries emerging from conflict situations.


"This review reflects the complexity of the EU systems as well as the great potential for greater coordination among EU donors” said Brian Atwood, chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee. “Great progress has been made, but each and every EU member will need to yield a bit if the Union is to reach its full potential as a donor. Fortunately, there is now strong institutional leadership that is pushing the ball in the right direction."


The Review makes a number of recommendations to improve the effectiveness of EU aid:
• To strengthen its international role in development and its impact in developing countries, the EU should continue efforts to build a common strategy with, and amongst, its member states. The proposed “Agenda for Change” is an opportunity to achieve this.
• To ensure it can work effectively in poor countries and fragile states, the EU needs to ensure that the 2014-2020 financial framework supports its strategic priorities with appropriate funding and tools, especially for security and transition issues, mainstreaming gender equality and environment, and supporting private sector development.
• Both the EU and its member states should also ensure that their national policies are coherent with their international development goals and publicise the positive effects of their development efforts in order to garner political and public support.
• To make its aid more effective, timely and flexible, the EU should further simplify its complex budget and administrative processes, and devolve more authority to its staff in the field.


The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee is comprised of the world’s major donors. The Committee’s peer review process aims to strengthen development co-operation, holding donors accountable for honouring their policy commitments, and sharing good practice to improve future program design and delivery.


The Peer Review of the European Union took place over a six month period, including visits to Chad and Peru, culminating on 28 March 2012. Japan and Norway acted as peer examiners, with supporting analysis provided by the OECD secretariat.

For more information on European Union’s development policies and programmes, journalists can contact Chantal Verger in the OECD’s Development Co-operation directorate: [email protected] or by phone +33 (0) 1 45 24 15 11.

 More information about OECD’s work on development is available at:
 Further information about the EU peer review  is available at:



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