The EU is the world’s largest donor, represented in 120 developing countries. It is the world’s largest humanitarian aid donor, supporting some 18 million people every year in over 60 countries. European counties spend over 20% of all their aid through Brussels. The EU is also a key player on non-aid aspects of development, whether trade, climate, agriculture or fisheries. At the same time, the Lisbon Treaty specifically makes poverty reduction an overarching objective of the Union; and the post-Lisbon arrangements arguably provide for more coherent policy-making.
Yet, the EU’s role remains controversial in European countries and many observers fear that the creation of a new European diplomatic service, led by the High Representative for External Affairs, Baroness Catherine Ashton, will result in development being treated merely as an instrument of foreign policy.
This meetings series will provide an opportunity to clarify and debate Europe’s role in international development. Following the publication earlier this year of the report of the European Think Tanks Group, ‘New Challenges, New Beginnings’, these meetings will offer updates on policy and institutional developments emanating from Brussels – and help to shape decisions now being taken on the future of development policy.