Over half the money spent in the world to aid developing countries (DCs) comes from the European Union and its Member States. The EU is the world's largest development aid donor. Italy channels almost half (46%) of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the European Union: it is the third net contributor to the EU development aid budget and the fourth largest contributor to the European Development Fund (EDF), with a total annual contribution of approximately 1.4 billion euros. Resources used by the European Commission to launch development initiatives or used through budget support are thus, in some measure, Italian resources.
The primary goal of the European Union is the global eradication of poverty within the framework of sustainable development. To achieve this goal, the EU is committed to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approved by all United Nations member countries. In this context, the EU has pledged an aid budget increase, bringing it to 0.7% of gross national income by 2015 (with a joint intermediate goal of 0.56% for 2010); about half of the increase will have to be allocated to Africa. The EU will continue to give priority to supporting less developed countries and those with low and medium income.
There are two funding channels for the EU's development policies:
- funds from the regular budget (about 50% of resources devoted to development come from this budget;
- the European Development Fund (EDF, now in its 11th cycle, 2014-2020) for policies regarding ACP countries, covering the remaining 50%.