Results of EU development co-operation

The European Union (EU) and its member states are together the world’s largest donors of development aid: in 2019 they spent € 75.2 billion on official development assistance. EU member states do not only fund and implement development projects themselves. They also contribute to and help decide on development cooperation programmes delivered by the European Commission through the various financing instruments at its disposal. In this way too, through the EU, the Netherlands is making progress towards the goals of its development policies.

External sources

Annual Report on EU’s external financing instruments 2018

Annual Report on the implementation of the EU’s external financing instruments in 2018

Commission Staff Working Document

Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the Annual Report

EU Aid Explorer

Explore European development aid projects with the EU Aid Explorer

This results page gives a bird’s-eye view of EU development results between June 2017 and June 2018 (the 2018 reporting year), the period for which the most recent data are available.

In the 2018 reporting year, the European Commission had around €16 billion at its disposal for development cooperation worldwide. The Netherlands contributed around 5% of this amount, through both the EU budget and the European Development Fund. The European Consensus on Development forms the policy framework for European development cooperation, based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The results achieved in the 2018 reporting year are set out in a European Commission report. The report gives results for each SDG and region, and shows how funds are allocated to each theme and geographical area. Results achieved are also presented in figures, using the EU Results Framework. This enables us to keep a record of results achieved over the years in relation to each SDG.

The overarching aim of European development policy is to eradicate poverty. To this end, the EU encourages good governance, human and economic development and action to tackle global problems, including preserving natural resources and promoting peace and stability. In this framework, the European Commission funds activities to achieve each of the SDGs. Below we have given a selection of results achieved. Most of the data are from the EU Results Framework and relate to the period from January 2014 to July 2018, unless a specific year is indicated. This page also highlights three SDGs, demonstrating amongst others that the European Commission works with the member states to achieve them all.

Highlighted EU contributions to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Explore results

Click on a SDGs from the circle to get an example of the achieved results

SDG 1: No poverty

1.5 million migrants, forcibly displaced people and members of host communities received EU assistance

SDG 2: Zero hunger

Over 12 million people affected by food insecurity accessed EU support

SDG 3: Good health and well-being

Almost 64 million one-year-olds were fully immunized with EU support

SDG 4: Quality education

Over 10 million children were enrolled in primary education with EU support


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SDG 5: Gender equality

In 2018 the Spotlight Initiative committed €265 million to combat sexual and gender-based violence in Africa and Latin America

SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

723,000 people accessed cleaner water or improved sanitation facilities with support from the EU

SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

Over 16.8 million people gained access to electricity with EU support

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

More than 1.1 million people accessed financial services with support from the EU

SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

€200 million was mobilised by the EU in 2018 to increase the use of digital technologies


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SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

In the period 2013-2018, over 1 million people benefited from vocational or skills training with EU support

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

91 countries and cities had climate change or disaster strategies under development or in place with EU support

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

6,500 micro-, small or medium-sized enterprises used EU support to apply sustainable consumption and production practices

SDG 13: Climate action

EU support helped avoid 18.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions

SDG 14: Life below water

2,700 km2 of marine areas were protected with assistance from EU initiatives

SDG 15: Life on land

Almost 7 million hectares of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems were under protection in 2018 with EU support


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SDG 16: Peace and justice strong institutions

42,000 victims of human rights violations were assisted with EU support and 168,000 people directly benefited from legal aid interventions supported by the EU

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

98 countries had help from the EU to mobilise revenue, strengthen public financial management and improve budgetary transparency

Examples of EU contributions to the SDGs

SDG 4: Quality education

Equal access to quality education and promoting life-long learning for all are keys to reducing poverty. Education offers the best prospects of a job, helps prevent child labour and gives young people more options, girls in particular. In the 2018 reporting year, the European Commission supported around 100 countries in their efforts to improve education – for example by promoting good governance within education ministries, enabling these countries to strengthen their education systems. The European Commission also funded capacity building to enable higher education institutions to modernise. At the same time, the Commission supported international partnerships, for example in providing education in emergency situations and ongoing crises. In the 2018 reporting year, around 8% of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid budget was spent on education for children and young people in emergency situations.

Global Partnership for Education & Education Cannot Wait

The EU and its member states are together the main donor of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This partnership aims to improve access to and the quality of primary education in more than 60 of the world’s poorest countries. In the period up to 2018, the European Commission contributed €445 million to the GPE; The Netherlands contributed €640 million in the same period.

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) works to increase access to education for children in crisis and conflict areas. Both the European Commission and the Netherlands contribute to this initiative. In late 2018, the European Commission released €16 million for ECW, and the Netherlands €13 million. In 2017 and 2018, this initiative reached more than 1.4 million children and young people affected by armed conflict, forced displacement, natural disasters and ongoing crises. Around half of these children and young people were girls.

SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

A resilient infrastructure, innovation and inclusive and sustainable industrialisation are indispensable to achieving the SDGs. Infrastructure includes not only roads but also energy and irrigation, for example. Technological progress is essential for better infrastructure. In working towards these goals, the European Commission uses innovative financing instruments. In the 2018 reporting year, 28 guarantees were approved in the framework of the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD). The European Commission established this fund in 2016, partly in response to calls from the Netherlands during its EU Presidency to work more closely with the private sector. The EFSD mobilises private investment to contribute to achieving the SDGs. These 28 approved guarantees, with a total value of €1.54 billion, are expected to generate €17.5 billion in investments in Africa and EU Neighbourhood countries. Four of these guarantees focus on promoting digital technologies, improving access to broadband internet and encouraging investment in innovative startups.

FMO Ventures Programme

Partly thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission provides the Dutch development bank FMO with a €40 million European Fund for Sustainable Development guarantee for its Ventures Programme. This guarantee, and a contribution from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, enables the FMO to invest €200 million in startups and scaleups that provide innovative solutions for development issues. FMO focuses on innovations within the financial, agriculture and energy sectors intended for groups not served by the existing market. For example, the programme supports new financial technologies that give small and medium-sized enterprises easier access to finance.

SDG 15: Life on land

Ecosystems are of great economic, ecological and social significance. They are also essential in mitigating climate change. Deforestation, desertification and land degradation threaten sustainable development and form obstacles to reducing poverty. The European Union supports sustainable management and use of natural resources by for example developing joint policy initiatives and supporting partner countries in delivering policy on sustainability. It has forged a link between trade and development cooperation, for example through voluntary partnership agreements in the framework of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance & Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan Facility. With this facility, timber-producing countries receive support in improving forest management, while efforts are made to prevent timber acquired through illegal logging to enter the EU. Agreements were initiated with Honduras and Guyana in the 2018 reporting year.

EU REDD Facility

The EU Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Facility supports partner countries participating in REDD+ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation. In 2018, the European Commission contributed €2 million to the EU REDD+ Facility for activities in Southeast Asia (Indonesia and Vietnam), Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congo-Brazzaville) and Latin America (Colombia and Ecuador). These activities focused on for example helping countries meet the preconditions for improving forest management, including secure land rights, sound legislation and monitoring. A new phase of the EU REDD+ Facility started in the 2018 reporting year. In the 2018-2022 period, activities will focus on improving legal frameworks and their implementation to promote sustainable land use, encourage public and private investment and provide information on deforestation-free production for the international market.

Expenditure by theme

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Expenditure by region

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Additional sources

European Consensus on Development

The European Consensus on Development forms the policy framework for European development cooperation

EC Staff Working Document on the EU Results Framework

The EU Results Framework presents results achieved in figures