Tag Archives: KE

Key competences for lifelong learning

Key competences for lifelong learning

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Key competences for lifelong learning


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Lifelong learning

Key competences for lifelong learning

Document or Iniciative

Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning [Official Journal L 394 of 30.12.2006].


Key competences for lifelong learning are a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the context. They are particularly necessary for personal fulfilment and development, social inclusion, active citizenship and employment.

Key competences are essential in a knowledge society and guarantee more flexibility in the labour force, allowing it to adapt more quickly to constant changes in an increasingly interconnected world. They are also a major factor in innovation, productivity and competitiveness, and they contribute to the motivation and satisfaction of workers and the quality of work.

Key competences should be acquired by:

  • young people at the end of their compulsory education and training, equipping them for adult life, particularly for working life, whilst forming a basis for further learning;
  • adults throughout their lives, through a process of developing and updating skills.

The acquisition of key competences fits in with the principles of equality and access for all. This reference framework also applies in particular to disadvantaged groups whose educational potential requires support. Examples of such groups include people with low basic skills, early school leavers, the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, migrants, etc.

Eight key competences

This framework defines eight key competences and describes the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes related to each of these. These key competences are:

  • communication in the mother tongue, which is the ability to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written form (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and to interact linguistically in an appropriate and creative way in a full range of societal and cultural contexts;
  • communication in foreign languages, which involves, in addition to the main skill dimensions of communication in the mother tongue, mediation and intercultural understanding. The level of proficiency depends on several factors and the capacity for listening, speaking, reading and writing;
  • mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology. Mathematical competence is the ability to develop and apply mathematical thinking in order to solve a range of problems in everyday situations, with the emphasis being placed on process, activity and knowledge. Basic competences in science and technology refer to the mastery, use and application of knowledge and methodologies that explain the natural world. These involve an understanding of the changes caused by human activity and the responsibility of each individual as a citizen;
  • digital competence involves the confident and critical use of information society technology (IST) and thus basic skills in information and communication technology (ICT);
  • learning to learn is related to learning, the ability to pursue and organise one’s own learning, either individually or in groups, in accordance with one’s own needs, and awareness of methods and opportunities;
  • social and civic competences. Social competence refers to personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence and all forms of behaviour that equip individuals to participate in an effective and constructive way in social and working life. It is linked to personal and social well-being. An understanding of codes of conduct and customs in the different environments in which individuals operate is essential. Civic competence, and particularly knowledge of social and political concepts and structures (democracy, justice, equality, citizenship and civil rights), equips individuals to engage in active and democratic participation;
  • sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action. It involves creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. The individual is aware of the context of his/her work and is able to seize opportunities that arise. It is the foundation for acquiring more specific skills and knowledge needed by those establishing or contributing to social or commercial activity. This should include awareness of ethical values and promote good governance;
  • cultural awareness and expression, which involves appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media (music, performing arts, literature and the visual arts).

These key competences are all interdependent, and the emphasis in each case is on critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem solving, risk assessment, decision taking and constructive management of feelings.

A European reference framework for European Union (EU) countries and the Commission

These key competences provide a reference framework to support national and European efforts to achieve the objectives they define. This framework is mainly intended for policy makers, education and training providers, employers and learners.

It is a reference tool for EU countries and their education and training policies. EU countries should try to ensure:

  • that initial education and training offer all young people the means to develop the key competences to a level that equips them for adult and working life, thus also providing a basis for future learning;
  • that appropriate provision is made for young people who are disadvantaged in their training so that they can fulfil their educational potential;
  • that adults can develop and update key competences throughout their lives, particularly priority target groups such as persons who need to update their competences;
  • that appropriate infrastructure is in place for continuing education and training of adults, that there are measures to ensure access to education and training and the labour market and that there is support for learners depending on their specific needs and competences;
  • the coherence of adult education and training provision through close links between the policies concerned.

It forms the basis for action at Community level, particularly within the Education and Training 2010 work programme and, more generally, within the Community education and training programmes. In this respect, the Commission should make a special effort to:

  • help EU countries to develop their education and training systems, apply the reference framework so as to facilitate peer learning and the exchange of good practices and follow up developments and report on progress through the progress reports on the Education and Training 2010 work programme;
  • use the reference framework for the implementation of the Community education and training programmes whilst ensuring that these programmes promote the acquisition of key competences;
  • use the reference framework to implement related Community policies (employment, youth, cultural and social policies) and to strengthen links with social partners and other organisations active in those fields;
  • assess, by December 2010, the impact of the reference framework within the context of the Education and Training 2010 work programme as well as the experience gained and the implications for the future.


The transversal nature of key competences makes them essential. They provide added value for employment, social cohesion or young people (European Youth Pact), which explains the importance of lifelong learning in terms of adapting to change and integration. The reference criteria, which make it possible to judge improvements in European performances, featured in a 2005 report with contrasting results.

In response to the concerns expressed at the Lisbon European Council on 23 and 24 March 2000, which were repeated in the revised Lisbon strategy in 2005, the key competences form part of the objectives of the Education and Training 2010 work programme, the Commission communication of 2001 on making a European area of lifelong learning a reality and the subsequent Council resolution adopted in 2002. These last two put forward specific proposals on making key competences a priority for all age groups. For its part, the 2004 joint interim report on the progress of the Education and Training 2010 work programme made the case for drawing up common European references and principles.

Key issues for competitiveness in Europe

Key issues for competitiveness in Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Key issues for competitiveness in Europe


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enterprise > Industry

Key issues for competitiveness in Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 21 November 2003 “Some Key Issues in Europe’s Competitiveness – Towards an Integrated Approach” [COM(2003) 704 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Competitiveness is determined by productivity growth. Therefore, a competitive economy is one that experiences high and sustained productivity growth.

Many factors have an immediate impact on competitiveness. For instance, the ability to promote research, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the ability to encourage investment and the level of competition, or even the ability to reap the benefits of the enlarged internal market, have a direct influence on the development of European competitiveness.

Issues for a more competitive Europe

European industry needs to be competitive if the Community is to achieve its social and environmental goals, which, in turn, ensure that the quality of life of Europe’s citizens improves.

The current state of competitiveness

At present, European productivity growth is slowing down. This slowdown is reflected by a loss of competitiveness, which is a cause for serious concern. It represents a threat to European industrial performance and to the European industry’s ability to carry out structural adjustments.

While there is currently no serious evidence to suggest that Europe is heading for deindustrialisation in the true sense of the word, the process of structural adjustment under way is certainly proving to be difficult.

Signs of weakness are emerging in several key areas in the European Union, particularly research and development, innovation, information and communication technologies (ICT), entrepreneurship and the development of new skills.

To be competitive in a global market that is more and more open to competition, it is vital that the European Union becomes more efficient. In particular, it must therefore encourage investment in research, innovation, ICT, the reorganisation of work and education, all of which are key aspects of the transition process. It is essential that European industry anticipates and better prepares itself for the challenges of adjustment.

How to meet the challenges of competitiveness

The measures taken by the European Union need to be based on an analysis of competitiveness. This analysis consists of two parts: a general economic analysis and a detailed analysis of the competitiveness of the different sectors. This will identify not only the key issues linked to competitiveness, but also the specific problems experienced in certain industrial sectors. This analysis will thus enable the European Union to determine what measures should be taken.

All Community policies must contribute to competitiveness. It is crucial, therefore, that the synergies between certain Community policies (industrial policy, research and development policy, competition policy, internal market strategy, fiscal policy, employment policy, education and training policy, environment policy, transport and energy policy, regional policy) are exploited to obtain the best results in terms of competitiveness, both at European and national level.

The European institutions and the Member States must act as the “guardians of competitiveness”: adopting and implementing the legislation needed for economic growth is their responsibility. In addition, they must carry out impact assessments systematically. In other words, they must take care to take full account of the impact of their political decisions on competitiveness.


This Communication responds to the request made by the 2003 spring European Council concerning the development of a strategy for competitiveness. It also forms part of the wider debate, launched by the Commission’s Communication of 11 December 2002 on the role of industrial policy in improving the competitiveness of industry.

Keep Europe moving – Sustainable mobility for our continent. Mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper

Keep Europe moving – Sustainable mobility for our continent. Mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Keep Europe moving – Sustainable mobility for our continent. Mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth > Growth and jobs

Keep Europe moving – Sustainable mobility for our continent. Mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper

This Communication draws up a mid-term review of European transport strategy, set out in the 2001 White Paper. The Commission reaffirms the main principles that guide its policy. It draws attention to the changes in the context since 2001 and the need to find new solutions to problems encountered within this new framework. Enlargement, the acceleration of globalisation, international commitments on global warming, the geopolitical context of the growth in oil prices and security fears have influenced the sector and resulted in calls for new solutions

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 22 June 2006 on the mid-term review of the Transport White Paper, “Keep Europe moving – Sustainable mobility for our continent, published in 2001. Mid-term review of the Transport White Paper, published in 2001 by the European Commission” [COM(2006) 314 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The 2001 White Paper proposed almost 60 measures designed to implement a transport system capable of restoring the balance between different modes, revitalising the railways, promoting sea and waterway transport and controlling the increase in air transport. The White Paper was providing a response to the sustainable development strategy adopted by the Göteborg European Council in June 2001.

This communication reaffirms the principles of 2001, which guide European transport policy by responding to the economic, social and environmental needs of society. This sector provides 7% of GDP in the EU and 5% of jobs. The mobility of goods and citizens, apart from being a right, also creates cohesion and is an essential element of the competitiveness of European industry and services.

Transport policy objectives

This communication provides an opportunity for an overview of the different sectors, in order to identify new solutions in a changing context.

Transport policy is at the heart of the Lisbon agenda for growth and jobs. The policy therefore has long term objectives which seek to balance economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection in all policy choices. It is therefore necessary to:

  • divorce mobility from its side effects, which are congestion, accidents and pollution;
  • optimise the potential of each mode of transport. Some modes, including waterborne transport, do not reach their full capacity;
  • promote green propulsion and encourage the use of more environmentally friendly, energy efficient and safer transport;
  • promote co-modality, i.e. the efficient use of different modes of transport on their own and in combinations, resulting in an optimal use of resources.

The Commission also wishes to adapt rail and waterborne transport in line with the principles of the internal market. Efficiency gains supported by EU policies should therefore make these modes of transport more competitive, particularly with regard to road transport.

In order to succeed in meeting these objectives, this communication identifies four pillars for transport policy, namely:

  • the mobility of people and businesses throughout the Union;
  • environmental protection, the security of energy supply, promoting minimum labour standards and protecting passengers and citizens;
  • innovation, which supports the implementation of the two previous objectives by making sector activity more efficient and sustainable;
  • action on the world stage so that other countries can share in these objectives.

The changing context

The text does, however, emphasise that the political context of transport in the EU has changed:

  • enlargement has given the EU a continental dimension. Europe is more diverse and each Member State finds itself in different and sometimes even contrasting situations, which include congestion in the West and accessibility problems in the East. This diversity requires differentiated solutions;
  • the transport industry has changed. Consolidation is taking place at the European level, especially in the aviation and maritime sectors. In addition, globalisation has led to the creation of large logistics companies with worldwide operations. European transport policy must take this new situation into account;
  • transport is fast becoming a high-technology industry. Research and innovation have a fundamental role to play. Some of the most pressing and promising areas include: intelligent transport systems involving communication, navigation and automation, engine technology with increased fuel efficiency and the promotion of alternative fuels;
  • international environmental commitments, including those under the Kyoto Protocol, must be integrated into transport policy;
  • transport policy must continue to attain the objectives of theEuropean energy policy: transport accounts for 30% of total energy consumption in the EU, with oil dependency reaching 98%. High oil prices influence the sector and promote improved energy efficiency;
  • the international context has changed. The threat of terrorism has impacted on the transport sector. At the same time, economic globalisation has affected trade flows and increased demand, particularly in emerging economies;
  • European governance is evolving. The basic legal framework of the internal market has largely been established, and much now rests on its effective implementation in the field. The Commission is also seeking to simplify the rules.

A new challenge

Therefore, while the most pressing challenges identified in 2001 were the imbalance between different modes of transport and congestion, the situation has developed subsequently. Road congestion has escalated and is now costing the EU 1% of GDP. There has also been a sustained increase in air traffic and its impact on the environment. Greenhouse gases and global warming are now prominent issues. Overall, domestic transport accounts for 21% of greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions have risen by around 23% since 1990, threatening the achievement of Kyoto targets.

The measures envisaged by the Commission in 2001 will therefore be inadequate for achieving the objectives established at the outset, hence the need for a broader, more flexible instrument for action. In order to devise and evaluate future policies, the Commission wants to promote a debate on transport scenarios with a 20 to 40-year timescale, in order to develop a universal approach to sustainable transport.

First Pillar: Mobility

Road transport

Although international road transport has been liberalised, at national level it is still largely protected. The Commission wishes to establish common rules relating to professional qualifications and working conditions, which vary greatly by Member State. Moreover, the impact on competition regarding differences in fuel-tax levels between Member States are important factors that will influence future development. Therefore, the Commission wishes to narrow the excessive differences in fuel-tax levels.

Rail transport

After the liberalisation of freight transport, whose legal framework is due for completion in 2007, the third package has to open up international passenger transport. The Commission wishes to:

  • propose measures on access to the market and the profession;
  • address the issue of excessive differences in excise duty levels;
  • implement the acquis with the support of regulatory bodies in Member States;
  • step up efforts to remove technical and operational barriers to international traffic;
  • establish a network dedicated to rail freight within the political framework of transport logistics;
  • organise rail-market monitoring using a scoreboard mechanism.

Air transport

The restructuring and integration of the air industry’s internal market are at a very advanced stage and customers benefit from the internal market’s development. The Commission nonetheless wishes to:

  • enlarge the internal market and extend its positive contributions to external aviation relations;
  • complete the creation of the single European sky in order to increase the efficiency of EU air transport;
  • invest to increase airport capacity, whilst clarifying regulations relating to charges;
  • reduce environmental effects caused by the rapid rise in traffic.

Maritime transport

The Commission identifies the maritime sector as an alternative to overland transport, particularly because it has considerable potential over short distances, as illustrated by the concept of ” motorways of the sea “. The development of maritime transport should, however, face up to two key challenges:

  • the creation of an internal shipping space. Due to international regulations, sea journeys from one Member State to another are considered as external. Therefore, the Commission wishes to organise a consultation to draw up a strategy for the creation of a “common European maritime space”;
  • the expansion of port capacity. In order to deal with the estimated growth in maritime transport, investment in ports should increased, in order to improve and extend services, with the help of competition and the introduction of clear rules for public sector contributions.

Transport by waterway

The Commission emphasises river transport’s potential, which could be enhanced through its integration into co-modal logistics chains. The NAIADES programme sets out an action plan that promotes the sector, which the Commission wishes to implement.

Second Pillar: Protection

Employment and working conditions

Transport is a major employer, providing more than 10 million jobs in the Union. However, in some sectors, such as rail and road transport, shortages of qualified personnel have come to light. The Commission therefore wishes to focus on training and encouraging more young people to choose jobs in the transport profession.

The Commission proposes to examine rules on working conditions due to significant variations in labour costs. The Commission also wishes to establish talks with a view to applying the International Labour Organization Convention in the maritime sector.

The Commission divides the concept of protection into the following categories:

  • passenger rights: The Commission notes that passenger rights have been consolidated in recent years, but considers that national authorities have to improve their follow-up of complaints. It therefore hopes to examine ways of promoting an improved quality of service and the assurance of basic passenger rights in all modes of transport, particularly for passengers with reduced mobility;
  • safety: the Commission also emphasises the progress that has been made in this area, especially with the creation of a blacklist of dangerous airlines. The Commission wishes to finalise safety rules with the third maritime legislative package as well as road rules with the CARS 21 initiative and eSafety forum;
  • security: the Commission wishes to refine the acquis of measures established in the wake of 11 September 2001 attacks, which revealed that transport is both a target and an instrument of terrorism. It will, therefore, propose amendments and broaden the scope of safety rules to include land and intermodal transport as well as critical infrastructures;
  • urban transport is confronted with a specific problem; city dwellers suffer the consequences of their own mobility more than anyone else. The Commission announces the publication of a Green Paper on this issue.

Third Pillar: Innovation

The Commission wishes to assimilate innovation across the board in transport policy in order to hasten the development of relevant solutions. Intelligent safety features, new means of communication and traffic management could all aid the mobility and integration of European networks. EU companies could also win new markets owing to their excellence in the field of transport technologies.


The transport sector uses a great deal of energy, accounting for 71% of EU oil consumption: 60% by road transport and approximately 9% by air transport. The remaining 2% is used by rail and inland navigation. Rail transport uses 75% electricity and 25% fossil fuels. The text recommends the promotion of improved energy efficiency on a European scale as well as supporting research, demonstration and market introduction of promising new technology.


Some areas in the “mid-West” of the EU are affected by congestion and pollution. By 2020, 60 big airports are expected to be over congested and a similar trend is observed in ports. It will therefore be necessary to build new infrastructures or to improve existing ones. The implementation of co-modal logistics chains is another solution.

Mobilising sources of financing

The total cost of the 30 priority trans-European transport network (TEN-T) projects, recorded in 2004, is estimated at around 250 billion. However, the public financing capacities of the Member States remain constrained. Similarly, the financial perspective for the period 2007-13 provide only a limited increase in the budget available for the TENs. The EU should therefore focus its co-financing on the critical border-crossing sections and the main bottlenecks. New types of financial engineering should also be developed.

Intelligent mobility

It is becoming increasingly common to charge for the use of transport infrastructure, as demonstrated in London or on specific motorways. The EU has adopted a Directive establishing a framework for toll motorways. These tariff systems aim to finance infrastructure, whilst helping to optimise traffic. The Commission has to propose, no later than 2008, a universal, transparent and comprehensible model for the assessment of all external costs, which must serve as the basis for calculations of infrastructure charges. The Commission also calls for a process of reflection, which encompasses the other modes of transport, in order to identify how intelligent charging can help improve the functioning of the sector.

Logistics is another issue that the Commission wishes to focus on, by drawing up a strategic framework, followed by a consultation leading to an action plan.

Furthermore, the Commission states that all modes of transport must have sophisticated means of communication, navigation and automation, relying in particular on the Galileo system. In this respect, the Intelligent Car and SESAR programmes are used for air transport, ERTMS for the rail industry and RIS for waterborne transport. In addition, the Commission wishes to develop similar initiatives in the maritime sector (e-maritime programme).

Fourth Pillar: Relations With Third Countries

The Commission would like its policy to be part of a broader relationship with non-member countries, as the transport sector is inherently connected to international issues. Furthermore, the convergence of EU and international standards opens export markets for European technology. EU transport companies are often hampered by the maintenance of import or investment barriers in non-member countries. The Commission therefore envisages developing cooperation policies and industrial dialogue with its main trading partners and regional groupings, in particular by concluding agreements. It also wishes to draw up a strategic framework for extending the main axes of the internal transport market and creating a network with neighbouring countries that so desire.

Key competences for a changing world

Key competences for a changing world

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Key competences for a changing world


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Education and training: general framework

Key competences for a changing world

Document or Iniciative

2010 joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the “Education & Training 2010” work programme – ‘Key competences for a changing world’ [Official Journal C 117 of 6.5.2010].


This fourth joint progress report on the implementation of the ‘Education and training 2010’ work programme notes that policy cooperation at the European level has provided valuable support to countries’ educational reforms. Education and training performance in the European Union (EU) has improved. Nevertheless, most of the quantitative targets set for 2010 have not been attained. Further work is needed to address the remaining challenges.

Key competences

The European framework for key competences for lifelong learning has been used in many EU countries as a reference point for reforming national education and training systems. It has contributed to the move towards a more competence-based teaching and learning approach. Progress has been significant on school curricula and in giving transversal key competences a more prominent part therein. However, additional efforts are needed in the organisation of learning, such as in:

  • putting to use the transversal key competences (digital competence, learning to learn competences, social and civic competences, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, and cultural awareness);
  • updating the skills and competences of teachers and providing professional development opportunities for school leaders;
  • further developing assessment and evaluation tools to take into account the most important skills and attitudes within the key competences, including the transversal key competences.

A concern for EU countries is pupils’ reading skills performance, which continues to deteriorate. Concerted efforts need to be made to increase literacy levels, especially among boys and migrants. In general, EU countries have adopted personalised approaches to learning for pupils with special needs, as well as programmes for acquiring basic skills at an early stage. Nevertheless, progress is slow and further efforts are needed to combat disadvantage.

EU countries must further develop their vocational education and training (VET) systems to address the full range of key competences more systematically. Work should focus on curricula, teaching and learning methods, and training of VET teachers. The full range of key competences must also be applied to adult learning. While EU countries have taken measures to increase adult participation in education and training, additional efforts should be made to cover all qualifications levels and to improve the competences of adult education teachers.

Lifelong learning strategies

Most EU countries have adopted lifelong learning strategies, which provide for flexible learning pathways. They have also progressed in the development of national qualifications frameworks linked to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and covering all levels and types of education and training. Efforts have also been made in the development of lifelong guidance systems for adults. Nevertheless, challenges remain regarding the:

  • implementation of the lifelong learning strategies;
  • further development of the lifelong learning strategies, in collaboration with stakeholders and other relevant policy sectors;
  • coherence and comprehensiveness of the lifelong learning strategies, so that they cover the full life-cycle instead of only specific sectors or target groups;
  • coordination of lifelong guidance systems to take into account the needs of young people.

Vocational education and training (VET)

The Copenhagen process provides for enhanced European cooperation on VET, with a view to improving the attractiveness and quality of VET systems. EU countries address these issues through the application of national quality assurance systems linked to the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET. They also emphasise the professionalisation of VET teachers as well as on making VET more adaptable to the needs of learners and businesses.

However, EU countries must still tackle challenges relating to VET. For example, the relevance of VET with regard to labour market needs must be improved through:

  • closer cooperation between VET and the business world;
  • more work-based training (in addition to school-based training);
  • tools for anticipating future skill needs.

Efforts should also be made to progress faster in finding ways for learners of VET to continue on to higher education.

Higher education

Following an increasing awareness of the importance of enabling non-traditional learners to enter higher education, most EU countries have taken measures to facilitate access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. At the same time, the diversity of income sources for higher education institutions is increasing. But, there is still the need to increase:

  • public as well as private investment in higher education;
  • access to higher education for those already in the work force for the purpose of continuing professional/personal development;
  • university-business partnerships to strengthen the autonomy of universities, as well as to improve their governance and accountability.

The way forward

While European cooperation in education and training has contributed to reforming national systems, critical challenges still remain. In particular, the European framework for key competences must be applied in full and the openness and relevance of education and training need to be improved. To this end, the Council and the Commission are committed to work together on the basis of the new strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) and in the context of the overarching “Europe 2020” strategy.

Keeping Europe's promises on Financing for Development

Keeping Europe’s promises on Financing for Development

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Keeping Europe’s promises on Financing for Development


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > General development framework

Keeping Europe’s promises on Financing for Development

Document or Iniciative

Annual report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 4 April 2007, Keeping Europe’s promises on Financing for Development [COM(2007) 164 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This is the fifth annual report from the European Commission on EU progress towards implementing the commitments agreed in 2002 and renewed in 2005 regarding financing for development. These aim to contribute to achieving the millennium development goals (MDG).

The EU is the biggest aid donor in the world and its participation in official development assistance (ODA) is constantly growing. The EU ODA results exceeded expectations in 2006, amounting to EUR 48 billion, which represents an ODA/GNI (gross national income) ratio of 0.42 % and exceeds the target of 0.39 % set for 2006. Despite these very positive results overall, the Commission calls on the Member States which did not meet their individual ODA targets to step up their efforts and asks all the EU countries to mobilise more programmable funds. Some Member States achieved high levels of OPA, notably through debt cancellation for poor countries, but the Commission stresses that such operations are undertaken only once and must be replaced by more stable and predictable development assistance.

As regards the beneficiaries of the assistance, the Member States of the EU-15 already allocate at least 0.15 % of their GNI to the least-developed countries (LDC) or intend to reach this level of assistance by 2010. Almost half the EU aid is intended for Africa. In addition, the EU has decided to allocate over half the aid promised on top of the ODA volumes each year to the continent of Africa.

Despite this overall progress, constant efforts have to be made in order:

  • to guarantee the long-term predictability of aid flows by establishing national timetables by the end of 2007 so as to ensure gradually rising aid levels year-on-year;
  • to ensure the participation of all Member Stats in the effort needed to achieve the 2010 objective;
  • to ensure that the increase in the volumes of ODA are permanent and the results of budgetary efforts real on the part of the Member States;
  • to strengthen the ODA reporting capacities and methodology of Member States to guarantee the comparability of volumes of aid;
  • to facilitate the effective and efficient use of aid volumes. To this end, EU donors should examine their structures and their operative and aid modalities. This process needs to include in particular national plans to strengthen capacity to scale up ODA and the speedy application of the forthcoming Code of Conduct on Division of Labour amongst EU donors.

Some Member States have implemented innovative sources of financing (such as the airline ticket tax for an International Drug Purchasing Facility – UNITAID, and the International Finance Facility for Immunisation – IFFIm) in favour of developing countries. These are stable and predictable sources of finance and lock in long-term budgetary commitments. Nevertheless, they cannot be a substitute for ODA.

As far as the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) are concerned, the Commission encourages Member States, in the appropriate international forums, to promote responsible lending and borrowing. This should encompass improved debt management of the developing countries and the promotion of dialogue with the new lenders. In fact, the multilateral debt relief initiative cancels the debt to the International Development Association (IDA), the African Development Fund and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but does not cover the outstanding loans from other regional development banks.

As far as the aid effectiveness is concerned, most of the objectives set out in the action plan ” Deliver more, better, faster ” are under way:

  • the joint multi-annual strategic planning has already been implemented in all the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, where the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) has enabled joint programming with other donors in the field;
  • following the success of the first edition in November 2006, European Development Days will be held every year.

The following actions have been taken:

  • the adoption of a Code of Conduct on the divison of labour among EU debtors
  • a revised EU Donor Atlas, including the first regional (West Africa) and country (Mozambique) editions;
  • EU Roadmap on the harmonisation of aid;
  • the removal of all the obstacles to co-financing.

In 2006 initiatives designed to increase the resilience of developing countries to external economic shocks (price vulnerability) and natural events (disasters, climate change and pandemics) have been drawn up and implemented. However, Member States paid little attention to them and progress is limited. To improve this situation, the Commission suggests certain measures to Member States, such as:

  • a common EU approach to disaster prevention and preparedness;
  • strengthening support for developing new instruments and methods to reduce adverse effects of external shocks on developing countries;
  • active participation in the International Task Force on Commodity Risk Management.

As regards untying aid, the EU has made more progress than other international donors. However, the Commission encourages Member States to untie all their aid. In 2006 the Community untying regulations were translated into the new financial cooperation instruments under the EC budget.

The Commission stresses the need to improve EU coordination within the international financial institutions (IFI) through increased dialogue and information sharing, whilst recognising the progress made in this field. It also proposes to reinforce the European voice within the IFI, while at the same time enhancing the voice of developing countries.

The EU confirms support for global public goods (GPG) and has made notable progress towards enhancing the supply of priority GPG, for example in health and environmental matters. Nevertheless, its actions will not be linked to the recommendations of the International Task Force, although it continues to take on the “responsible leadership” role.


In 2005 the Commission gave fresh impetus to the EU development policy with the adoption of a Development Policy Framework 2006-2010. It takes stock of whether the commitments entered into are being met by adopting a package of measures comprising this Communication and two others (please see ‘Related Acts’).

Key figures in the act
  • EU ODA in 2006: EUR 48 billion.
  • EU ODA/GNI ratio in 2006: 0.42 % (target: 0.39 %).
  • The most generous donor Member States: Sweden (which allocates 1 % of its GNI to aid), Luxembourg (0.89 %), the Netherlands (0.81 %) and Denmark (0.80 %).
  • The EU-15 Member States allocating the least: Greece (0.16 %), Italy (0.20 %) and Portugal (0.21 %).
  • The new Member States (EU-10) have doubled their ODA since their accession.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions From Monterrey to the European Consensus on Development: honouring our commitments [COMM(2007) 158 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This political Communication introduces the two Specific Communications “Keeping Europe’s promises on Financing for Development” and “Towards an EU Aid for Trade strategy – the Commission’s contribution”.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ” Towards an EU Aid for Trade strategy – The Commission’s contribution ” [COM(2007) 163 final – Not published in the Official Journal].