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International Partnerships

How we design programmes

Development and international cooperation programmes and funding instruments

To implement European development assistance and international cooperation, we design different types of programmes which can be either:

  • geographic – targeting a specific country or region
  • or thematic – targeting a specific sector

Our funding instruments help us define the legal framework and scope of these programmes, and specify which actors and areas are eligible for funding.

The Global Europe: Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument is the main financial tool of the EU's international cooperation for the period of 2021-2027.

© European Union

Programming and financial decisions

Programming is the decision-making process through which we define the medium to long-term planning, together with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and our partner countries and regions.

The programming of the Global Europe instrument was launched in November 2020 and should be completed by the end of 2021, with the adoption by the Commission of geographic and thematic multi-annual indicative programming documents.

Based on discussions with partner countries, civil society, EU Member States, other donors and concerned stakeholders, these programming documents set out the priority areas, specific objectives, expected results and indicative allocations for EU actions at country, regional and thematic level.

For each year of a programming period:

  • annual action programmes specify the objectives, fields of intervention, expected results, management procedures, and total amounts of allocated funds;
  • annual work programmes for grants specify the legislation, objectives, and schedule of calls for proposals, with indicative amounts of funding and expected results.

Our programming decisions respect and implement European policy priorities and our international commitments such as:

  • the European Consensus on Development
  • the EU Global Strategy for foreign and security policy
  • the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals
  • the Paris Agreement on climate change
  • the Addis Ababa Action Agenda

We also make sure that our work is coherent with other European Commission services’ efforts in related EU policy areas, such as trade, environment, climate change, migration, employment, agriculture etc.

For further information on programming guidelines, see our funding section.

Joint programming

Through the joint programming process, we coordinate with EU countries and other donors to jointly plan development and external action priorities.

After conducting a joint analysis of a partner country’s situation, we define together with all parties involved a joint response in order to optimise our development assistance.

Through the Team Europe approach, initiatives with Member States at country and regional level, are being identified, where actions financed from the EU and from the Member States may have transformational impact.

For further information on joint programming, see our guidance pack.