• European Institutions

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    Context

    The European Union Institutions’ (European Commission – EC- and European Investment Bank) total ODA increased by €3.7 billion (27%) in 2020 compared to 2019 in nominal terms, reaching €15 billion, making it the third-largest OECD DAC donor. Preliminary OECD figures also show that ODA provided by the EU Institutions plus its 27 Member States reached €66.8 billion in 2020, representing 0.50% of total EU Gross National Income (GNI).Yet, overall figures of EU external funding are likely to decrease in the coming years following the UK’s exit from the EU (‘Brexit’) in January 2020, resulting in reductions in the development budget.

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    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. The most recent and notable one is the EU’s Gender Action Plans (GAP III), which provides the framework to promote gender equality through EU and EU Member States’ external action. As with its predecessor, 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. 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.

    Strong commitments to SRHR are also included in the recently negotiated Post-Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which is the partnership guiding the relations between the EU and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP). The new agreement contains explicit commitments to the promotion of full SRHR.

    In December 2020, the EU adopted its current long-term budget: the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), amounting to €1.07 trillion of EU central budget for the next seven years. The current MFF allocates €98.4 billion to EU external action, including €79.5  billion for the main instrument for EU cooperation entitled 'Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument/Global Europe' (NDICI/GE). The NDICI/GE was finally adopted in 2021 and its legal basis includes specific references to SRHR as an important area to be funded, providing a solid basis for the future implementation of EU programmes on SRHR.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of prioritising human development and particularly health expenditure. In addition to the inclusion of these commitments in the NDICI/GE, 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). TEIs represent an enhanced tool to design and carry out international development policies and programmes, and are expected to play an important role in the programming and implementation of the new NDICI/GE. 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, which brings together the EC, Sweden, Germany, France, Finland, Belgium and The Netherlands is expected to be adopted early 2022.

    Between 2020 and 2021, several other EU policies reaffirmed and called for  the promotion of SRHR in the EU’s external action. For example, several EU Council Conclusions adopted throughout the year include references to SRHR, such as those on Human Development, on the Team Europe approach, Water in the EU’s external action, EU-Africa relations, and Youth in external action.

    In addition, a landmark report  on the situation of SRHR in the EU was adopted by the European Parliament in June 2021. The resolution calls upon the EU and its Member States to support and promote access to SRHR services and ensure access to the full range of SRHR, and remove all barriers impeding full access to SRHR, including in the EU’s external action.

    Total disbursed funding

    According to the Countdown 2030 tracking, in 2020 the EU Institutions disbursed almost € 85 million to sexual and reproductive health and family planning (SRH/FP). This amounts to about 0.6% 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 sexual and gender based violence, the EU’s ODA expenditure for SRHR amounted to € 244 million in 2020, equivalent to 1.6% of its total ODA. These different spending levels showcase the significant importance the EU places on its normative role in international development and cooperation.

    Earmarked multilateral funding

    European Institutions provide a significant amount of their funding for health to multilateral institutions through specific earmarked projects. UNFPA is a recurrent recipient of EU funding, having received around €11 million in 2020. The EU has supported UNFPA’s Supplies Partnership Programme since 2012; and while the EU did not provide support to the Partnership in 2020,  it is expected that the EC will continue funding the Partnership through the NDICI/GE instrument, with a new funding commitment for the next 3 years.  Other multilaterals that are also of relevance to SRHR include UNICEF (especially in support to maternal health as part of the COVID-19 reponse and ending harmful practices such as female genital mutilation) with little less than € 11 million, a €127 million contribution to the Spotlight Initiative (via UNDP) to fight violence against women and girls, and €8 million to promoting gender equality and ending gender based violence (via UNWOMEN).

    Funding to specific organisations and initiatives

    The EU institutions also disburse funds to SRHR projects through international NGOs or initiatives. 2020 data indicate that the total SRHR funding from EU Institutions to specific organisations and initiatives amounted to more than € 61 million, with € 43.7 million disbursed to SRH/FP, about half of which was channelled through the Global Financing Facility. This difference shows once again a clear commitment (€17.3 million) towards projects devoted to promoting women empowerment, HIV prevention, ending SGBV and negative social norms, among others.

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    • Relevant Documents


    Updated January 2022

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