Pin with the flags of Germany and the European Union

European cooperation “Team Europe”: development policy within the framework of the European Union

No country or association of states invests more in development cooperation than the European Union (EU). In 2022, the EU and its 27 member states accounted for 46 per cent of the funding provided for international development cooperation. These investments are part of what is known as Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Beyond its financial contributions, the EU also has many varied economic, political and cultural relations with its partner countries and with regional and international organisations. This is another reason why the EU is a key player in international development policy. There is close collaboration between the European Union and its member states in this regard, with the respective national development policies and European measures mutually complementing each other.

A new approach for foreign and development policy

Federal Minister Svenja Schulze with Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships in Berlin in January 2022

Federal Minister Svenja Schulze with Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships in Berlin in January 2022

Federal Minister Svenja Schulze with Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships in Berlin in January 2022

The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine is currently a major challenge in EU development policy. Among other things, the war is having a huge impact on global food security, and it is to be feared that there will be famines and shortages in energy supply in developing countries and emerging economies. Moreover, climate change, global biodiversity loss and the COVID-19 pandemic mean that European collaboration is facing important tasks. Tasks that require joint action – both within Europe and worldwide.

In order to assist their partner countries in coping with these crises, the European Union, the EU member states and the EU’s financial institutions decided in April 2020 to combine their efforts. Since then, this concept of community has evolved further into a general approach for European foreign and development policy known as the “Team Europe” approach. It is the EU’s strategic response to foreign and development policy issues. The approach allows the EU to play a leading role, assume greater responsibility and act in solidarity on the global stage, and put more of a spotlight on shared values and interests.

Team Europe is more than a brand name. The Team Europe Initiatives (TEIs) are a visible and tangible expression of the collaboration between the EU and its partner countries. The TEIs are an instrument for implementing the EU’s Global Gateway strategy. The EU is using this comprehensive strategy to mobilise private and public funding to boost the development of global infrastructure in collaboration with its partner countries. Funding is being provided in the areas of digital technology, climate and energy, transport, health, and education and research.

Joint Programming

The Team Europe approach is closely connected with the EU’s Joint Programming, which was established in 2006 with the aim of ensuring a more coordinated, effective approach to development cooperation and external action. Joint Programming means that the EU, its member states and sometimes other partners as well agree to a common strategy and coordinate their goals, the division of labour and the implementation of measures. Joint Programming also includes the joint monitoring (External link) of results.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) participates in Joint Programming in all partner countries of German development cooperation. Whenever possible, the BMZ’s own country strategies are replaced by Joint Programming.

How is European development cooperation financed?

In order to effectively and visibly promote sustainable development worldwide, in 2021 the EU established its first-ever uniform financing instrument for development cooperation: the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, also known as NDICI – Global Europe. It is part of the EU budget and has an overall allocation of 79.5 billion euros. These funds are to be used in the period 2021-2027 to help:

  • overcome poverty
  • protect democracy, the rule of law and human rights
  • promote sustainable development and strengthen climate action
  • mitigate the causes of irregular migration and prevent forced displacement
  • promote multilateralism and implement international agreements such as the 2030 Agenda and the Paris climate agreement
  • deepen partnerships with countries around the world

NDICI – Global Europe brings together different approaches for doing this. One focus of the funding instrument is on promoting relations with partner countries and regions. In addition, it is a way to tackle cross-regional challenges and promote sustainable development at the global level. Moreover, the instrument provides funding for rapid crisis response and conflict prevention. There is also a financial reserve for responding flexibly to unexpected developments and events.

A core element is the integrated “European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus” (EFSD+). This is used for mobilising additional public and private investment for sustainable development.

What role does Germany play in European development cooperation?

Flag of the Federal Republic of Germany, flag of the European Union and logo of the German EU Council Presidency

As the largest EU member state, Germany plays a key role in shaping the development cooperation of the European Union. In addition to that, the German government wants to make German development cooperation “more European” as a way of making the activities of the EU and its member states more efficient and more visible as a joint European contribution to sustainable development. The idea is to closely coordinate development, foreign and security policy so as to effectively prevent conflict, and support change processes in the EU’s partner countries.

The focus is on Global Health, social standards for the global trade regime, eradicating hunger and poverty, climate action, Just Transition, migration, digital technology and gender equality.

Germany works closely with the EU institutions and other EU member states for doing this. Among other things, Germany has successfully campaigned for the provision and production of vaccines in Africa as part of a Team Europe Initiative. In this regard, a lot has already been achieved in close collaboration with European and global partners.

Mural by the artist Nova Dead in Brussels

Mural by the artist Nova Dead in Brussels

Mural by the artist Nova Dead in Brussels

As at: 11/08/2022