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International Partnerships
News announcement18 December 2020Directorate-General for International Partnerships4 min read

European Commission welcomes political agreement on future €79.5 billion for a new instrument to finance the EU external action and lead the global recovery

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© GCCA+/EU 2020 - Photo credit: Diksh Potter

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and EU Member States in the Council on the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) for the next MFF period (2021-2027). These negotiations are now concluded, pending the final approval of the respective legal texts by the European Parliament and the Council.

The High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, said: “Today's agreement sends a strong signal to our partners on the role of Europe as a leading global player in the international scene and its commitment to continue being a reliable partner. The new comprehensive instrument is a historical achievement for our external action. It will allow for better alignment of our international cooperation with EU political and policy priorities, and to be more flexible and responsive to new emerging priorities and challenges in a fast-changing world. The EU will remain a committed supporter of multilateralism and global priorities such as peace and stability, good governance, trade and inclusive and sustainable growth, in the interest of the EU and the entire world.

As lead negotiator for the European Commission, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, declared: “I am very proud of the agreement on what will be our main instrument for the external EU cooperation. In these difficult COVID-19 pandemic times, the European Union will be equipped to promote sustainable development worldwide: by shaping the twin objectives of green and digital transitions, supporting human rights and democracy, investing in human development –notably health and education- or contributing to the eradication of poverty. Thanks to the new financial instrument, the Union will promote comprehensive partnerships, working closely with partners countries, our Member States and its agencies, civil society organisations and other stakeholders, with due regard to cross-cutting issues such as gender equality and youth.”

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, noted: “With this key financing instrument for the EU's external action we will provide strong support to our neighbours in the East and in the South in addressing all the current challenges, starting with resilient economies and economic recovery that will boost growth and jobs. Connectivity will also be an important priority for the renewed partnerships we are building with our neighbours in mutual interest.”

With an overall allocation of €79.5 billion in current prices, the new instrument will cover the EU cooperation with all third countries. The total allocation will be divided as follows:

  • €60.38 billion for geographic programmes (at least €19.32 billion for the Neighbourhood, at least €29.18 billion for Sub-Saharan Africa, €8.48 billion for Asia and the Pacific, and Americas and the Caribbean, €3.39 billion);
  • €6.36 billion for thematic programmes (Human Rights and Democracy, Civil Society Organisations, Peace, Stability and Peace Conflict Prevention and Global Challenges);
  • €3.18 billion for rapid response actions.

A “cushion” of unallocated funds of €9.53 billion could top-up any of the above-mentioned programmes and rapid response mechanism, to address unforeseen circumstances, new needs or emerging challenges and promote new priorities. Candidate countries and potential candidates will also benefit from a dedicated instrument –the Instrument for Pre-accession assistance (IPA III)– for which positive outcomes are expected soon at a next ‘trilogue'.

The NDICI will particularly support countries most in need to overcome the long-term developmental challenges and will contribute to achieving the international commitments and objectives that the Union has agreed to, in particular the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. It merges several current external financing instruments under the EU budget.

Background information

The NDICI puts an end to the European Development Fund supporting the EU cooperation to Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific for decades. This Fund was directly financed by the EU Member States, not by the EU budget, and therefore was not subject to the scrutiny of the European Parliament. Through the NDICI, the EU will also boost its support to sustainable investment worldwide under the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) by leveraging private capital to complement direct external cooperation grants. The EFSD+ will be backed by a €53.4 billion External Action Guarantee, which will also cover the Western Balkans.

The political agreement reached this week addresses the last -and possibly most sensitive- elements of the NDICI negotiations, concerning mainly the indicative allocation for some regions and thematic areas, migration, the governance of the new instrument, and the spending targets for issues such as climate change, which will increase to 30%. The political agreement will be translated into the corresponding legal text in the next days, before the two institutions formally adopt the NDICI.

Next steps

Once adopted in early 2021, the NDICI will be implemented through the approval in 2021 of multi-annual indicative programmes for the 2021-2027 period for each region, partner country and thematic programme, to be prepared by the services of the Commission and the European External Action Service, which will frame the subsequent financial implementation of actions.

On 10 November 2020, a political agreement was reached between the European Parliament, EU Member States in the Council as well as the Commission on the next long-term EU budget and NextGenerationEU. As a next step, the legal adoption of the MFF package along with the ratification of the Own Resources Decision is now urgently needed.

Once adopted, the EU's long-term budget, coupled with the NextGenerationEU initiative, which is a temporary instrument designed to drive the recovery of Europe, will be the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget. A total of €1.8 trillion* will help rebuild a post-COVID-19 Europe. It will be a greener, more digital and more resilient Europe.

(*in 2018 prices)


Publication date
18 December 2020
Directorate-General for International Partnerships