The European Consensus agreement signed in December 2005 by the Presidents of the Commission, Parliament and European Council (to which the European External Action Service was added in 2014), defines for the first time the framework of common principles with which the European Union and its member states implement their development policies, in a spirit of complementarity (in line with the terms of the treaty). The legal basis for the existence of a European development policy was introduced in 1992 in the form of the Maastricht Treaty and in 2000 the European Commission approved its Development Policy Statement, which was limited to the European Commission’s co-operation policy.
Largely based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the European Consensus has as its main objective the eradication of poverty and is divided into two parts. Part one is dedicated to itemising the common principles and values for the EU and MS and part two details the priorities and modalities to be pursued in the framework of development policy (please see attached the synthesis of the European Consensus), which formed the basis for the programming of the EU’s funding for overseas activities for the period of 2007-2013.
In May 2012, given the existence of a new international aid framework (corresponding with the growth of emerging economies and the increase in cases of fragility) and the need for a more effective means of development policy and EU foreign policy in general, the Council’s conclusions were adopted for "Increasing the Impact of EU Development Policy: An Agenda for Change", which complemented (not replaced) the approach contained in the European Consensus, including the following key points:
- Greater visibility of the issues relating to good governance and human rights, linked to a stronger political spectrum;
- Establishing "differential development partnerships" focusing on assistance in countries with a greater need for external support where EU aid may have a greater impact and the use of other methods (i.e. a mix of loans and grants) in the relationship with partner countries showing signs of sustained growth and/or are able to generate sufficient quantities of their own resources;
- Support for inclusive and sustainable growth (with the emphasis on social protection, health and education) with the aim of reinforcing sectors deemed to have a multiplying effect (especially agriculture and energy);
- Support for the creation of a favourable environment for the development of the private sector and trade;
- Drawing up a more co-ordinated and more coherent integrated EU response to fragile states combining the various instruments of policy besides security, development and humanitarian aid;
- Strengthen provisions relating to joint programming of aid from the Commission and its member states.
This approach is the basis for the programming of financial instruments for development of the current long-term financial framework for 2014-2020.
Following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it’ll be necessary to conduct a review of EU development policy (contained in the European Consensus and Agenda for Change), which may have an impact on the ongoing revision of the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) running between 2016 and 2018, as well as the future financial framework. The debate on the revision of the "European Consensus on Development" has already started and should be allowed to adapt development policy under the terms of the current European Union Treaty, 2030 Agenda and all the other international agreements, particularly those of Addis Ababa, Busan Global Partnership, COP 21 and Sendai.