Five Facts About EU Foreign Aid


SEATTLE — After centuries of mistrust and war, conflict in Europe hit a crescendo after the Second World War. Left in ruins, the governments of Europe were threatened by the encroachment of communism from the East and needed a way to ensure a peaceful future, especially between Germany and France. It started as the European Coal and Steel Commission, a trade community made up of six countries: Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Now, the European Union is a financial and political union made up of 28 European nations, giving the member nations a stronger voice on the world stage. In 2009, member nations signed the Lisbon Protocol, which strengthened the member nations’ ability to act together on the world stage. One of its main goals in the eradication of poverty.

The World’s Largest Donor of Development Finance

According to the European Union, it is the world’s largest donor of development finance. This is attributed to the fact that funds for these investments come from all 28 member countries. However, according to the EU, they are not the world’s largest individual provider of foreign aid funds. Individually, the stats are the United States in first, followed by Germany and the United Kingdom acting as individuals (nations of the EU still make many foreign policy decisions on their own) and then the EU itself. In 2015, EU foreign aid totaled $17.1 billion, less than 1 percent of its $16.52 trillion GDP.

The Promotion of Education

The European Union works closely with the Global Partnership for Education. GPE was established in 2002 to increase the number of children worldwide who are able to get an education by bringing together countries, aid organizations and individual investors. The EU, in partnership with GPE, helped 72 million more children attend primary school in 2015 than in 2002. This is only one achievement resulting from the €375 million in EU foreign aid  thatGPE received. In 2017, the European Union donated another €100 million to GPE.

European Neighborhood Policy

The European Neighborhood Policy was originally launched to increase the European Union’s relations with its neighbors and was launched again in 2009 after the Arab Spring. Fear of instability across the Mediterranean prompted the EU to act. Security and humanitarian aid to these nations were of the utmost importance to the EU. The European Union wanted to promote democracy and human rights after the protests. The aid from this program reached Syria. Since violence erupted in 2011, €3.2 billion in EU foreign aid has been sent to the victims of violence in Syria.

The European Development Fund

Launched in 1959, it is the vehicle by which the European Union now distributes foreign aid around the world. Its total budget for 2014-2020 is €30.4 billion. This EU foreign aid is distributed to areas the EU deems important. However, an article by Foreign Affairs claims that while the funding is sufficient, how it is distributed is wasteful. Countries that used to be colonial powers always push for more funding for their former dominions. This spreads the funding thin and it is not always able to effectively eradicate the problems these nations face.

Where Does EU Foreign Aid Go?

Afghanistan receives the most EU foreign aid. The country received $1.23 billion in aid in 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa received $10.5 billion in aid and south central Asia received $4.4 billion in aid. In 2015, $2 billion was spent on the financial and banking sectors. This aid helps countries pay or restructure their debts, eventually allowing them financial independence. Other sectors followed closely behind, with education and agriculture receiving just over $700 million each.

As the largest trading bloc in the world, the European Union seems to be doing its fair share pertaining to foreign aid. The Union has established peace in Europe and is a tool of great aid around the world.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: Flickr


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