EU external cooperation is directed toward developing countries as well as countries in transition and industrialised nations, combining aspects of “development cooperation” in the classic sense (Title XX of the Treaty Establishing the European Community) and what is known as “economic, financial and technical” cooperation (Title XXI of the EC Treaty). The majority of aid is allotted in the context of agreements intended to intensify trade and cooperation links or for other purposes that can range from the installation of political dialogue to the creation of forms of partnership and association and even, for some countries, to the prospect of EU membership.
January 1st 2007 coincided with the inauguration of a new architecture for EU aid to third countries founded on the need for a radical simplification of aid along with improved efficiency and visibility. Heading 4—“The EU as a Global Actor”—of the 2007-2013 Financial Perspectives deals with the EU’s external action, allotments for which amount to a total of approximately 55 billion euro for that period.
A more complete picture of EU aid to third countries includes the 22.682 billion euro envisaged within the context of the European Development Fund (EDF)—an intergovernmental fund that finances cooperation with the “ACP Countries” (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) belonging to the Cotonou Partnership—for the period 2008-20013, and the 27.8 billion euro in loans during the same period from the European Investment Bank (EIB), decided after lengthy ECOFIN negotiations on 28 November 2006.
Beginning in 2007 the Union’s external action is to be founded essentially on four geographic and four horizontal instruments, designed to better focus on specific political objectives such as enlargement, neighbourhood policy, reaching the Millennium Goals, etc.