According to the OECD DAC, the EU and its 27 Member States continued increasing their Official Development Assistance (ODA) for partner countries around the world to 70.2 billion Euros in 2021. This is the equivalent of 0.49% of collective Gross National Income (GNI). As a result, the EU and its Member States confirm their position as the world’s leading donor, providing 43% of global ODA. The ODA provided by EU institutions (the European Commission – EC -and the European Investment Bank – EIB) increased by 1 billion Euros overall in 2021.
Policies & funding
The EU Institutions continuously commit to the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in major policies and international cooperation and development documents. In October 2022, for example, the European Commission adopted its Youth Action Plan (YAP), which will be the guiding policy framework to promote youth engagement and empowerment as part of the EU’s external action. The YAP specifically recognises SRHR as one of the key priority areas for youth empowerment, with a commitment to ‘’promote universal access to youth-friendly SRHR, with quality and affordable services and information, including comprehensive sexuality education, HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment, focusing on adolescent girls, marginalised and LGBTIQ young people’’. The Council Conclusions, approved in November 2022, express strong political support for the proposed actions and the implementation of the YAP.
Strong commitments to SRHR are also included in the EU’s Gender Action Plan (GAP III), which provides the framework to promote gender equality through EU and EU Member States’ external action. The GAP III, adopted in November 2020, includes SRHR as one of the key thematic areas for the promotion of gender equality, with specific objectives and indicators. As a result, several EU partner countries have identified SRHR as a priority sector for the GAP III implementation. In addition, GAP III reaffirms the EU’s commitment to dedicate 85% of external cooperation projects to the promotion of gender equality as a principal or significant objective, with a new commitment for all EU Delegations in partner countries to implement at least one action with gender equality as principal objective. The Mid-Term Evaluation of the implementation of the GAP III, which was published in April 2023, confirmed that the policy has helped to continue increasing the strategic importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) in EU external action. However, it also found that the level of ambition and impact of GAP III varies from country to country. In November 2023, the European Commission published its joint mid-term report on the implementation of the Action Plan, which included input from EU Member States, UN agencies and CSOs. Based on this report, the EU has decided to extend the GAP III implementation period until 2027 and thus align the duration with the 2021-2027 MFF and the NDICI.
In November 2022, the European Commission adopted a new Global Health Strategy (GHS) that puts back health on the EU’s political agenda as a key priority. SRHR is recognised as a fundamental component of the strategy. As such, it includes supporting universal access to SRHR as a key action necessary to deliver better health and to improve equitable access to health services. The GHS also puts a focus on promoting SRHR for women and girls, youth, and people with disabilities, making a specific reference to youth-friendly services.
The EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2021 – 2027 (MFF) attributes 79.5 billion Euros to the ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument /Global Europe (NDICI/GE), which is the main instrument for EU international cooperation. The NDICI/GE, adopted in 2021, and its legal basis includes specific references to SRHR as an important area to be funded, thereby providing a solid basis for the future implementation of EU programmes on SRHR. These commitments are also reflected in the programming of the funding: in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Multiannual Indicative Programmes (MIPs) of 21 countries include references to Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Other countries, might not have prioritised SRHR specifically, but include references to SRHR-related issues such as human development, Universal Health Coverage, gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE), and the fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
In addition to the inclusion of these commitments in the NDICI/GE and the important references to SRHR and related issues in the MIPs, the EU is stepping up its coordination with Member States and partner countries, by embracing a new “Team Europe” approach and implementing “Team Europe Initiatives” (TEIs). They envisage greater coordination between EU Institutions and Member States, to improve consistency and coherence of their external action. A TEI on SRHR in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on adolescent girls and young women, brings together the EC, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden and three African Regional Economic Communities: the East African Community (EAC), the West African Health Organization (WAHO) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Launched in the end of 2022, the TEI on SRHR aims amongst others to strengthen political commitments and capacities (joint education and health sector responses for SRHR outcomes), to strengthen regional mechanisms to address supply-side constraints and improve access to quality assured SRHR commodities, to strengthen advocacy and social accountability of regional commitments on SRHR (including data availability).
Total disbursed funding
According to the Countdown 2030 tracking, in 2022 the EU Institutions disbursed 112 million Euros to sexual and reproductive health and family planning (SRH/FP). This amounts to about 0.4% of the EU’s total ODA spending. If other essential interventions beyond SRH/FP are also accounted for, such as projects related to the promotion of comprehensive sexuality education and LGBTI+ rights, HIV prevention and SGBV, the EU’s ODA expenditure for SRHR amounted to 240 million Euros in 2022, equivalent to 0.9% of its total ODA.
Earmarked multilateral funding
European Institutions provide a significant amount of their funding for health and SRHR to multilateral institutions through specific earmarked projects. UNFPA is a recurrent recipient of EU funding, having received 73 million Euros in 2022 for SRHR, of which more than 71 million Euros were specifically allocated to SRH/FP. This large amount of SRH/FP funding, especially compared to previous years, can be explained by a large EU contribution (45 million Euros) to the UNFPA supplies programme. While the EU already made this commitment in 2021, the contribution itself only happened in 2022.
Other EU supported multilaterals that are of relevance to SRHR include UNICEF (almost 1.5 million Euros), UNDP (more than 41 million Euros to the Spotlight Initiative to fight violence against women and girls in the ACP countries, in Asia and in Latin-America), and UNWOMEN (more than 4 million Euros to promoting gender equality and ending gender-based violence).
- Funding and policy factsheet 2022-2023-EU.pdf
- Negotiated text of the Post-Cotonou Agreement
- Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI/GE)
- Joint Communication ‘Youth Action Plan (YAP) in EU external action 2022 -2027: Promoting meaningful youth participation and empowerment in EU external action for sustainable development, equality and peace’
- Council Conclusions on the Youth Action Plan in EU external action
- Joint Communication ‘EU Gender Action Plan (GAP) III – An ambitious Agenda for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in EU external action
- European Parliament own-initiative report on GAPIII
- Presidency Conclusions on the Gender Action Plan (GAP) III 2021-2025 – An ambitious Agenda for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in EU external action
- Mid-Term Evaluation of the Implementation of the EU Gender Action Plan III.
- European Commission, EU Aid Explorer
- Council Conclusions on Youth in external action