Skip to main content

Cookies on the Irish Aid website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

European Union

European Union

Ireland’s European Union (EU) membership is at the heart of the Government’s new Policy for International Development, A Better World. 

Ireland plays a central role in the EU’s Global Strategy which seeks to advance political relations, trade, development and security in all regions of the world.  Ireland funds the EU’s development programme (EuropeAid) and uses its membership of the EU to influence the direction of its overall development co-operation policies to ensure that, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they deliver results and make a real difference to the lives of people in Least Developed Countries.

Why we work with the EU

The EU and its Member States continue to be the world's leading provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA), with an overall amount of over €75 billion in 2017. This is over half of the global ODA provided by donors (see 2018 short video here).

In 2018 the EU consolidated its position as the world’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid, giving over €2 billion to support humanitarian efforts in 90 countries – providing life-saving support from natural disasters and man-made conflicts around the globe.

The EU recognises that development assistance alone will not achieve the SDGs and that is why it is working hard to ensure that developing countries can build their capacity to benefit from open and free trade, can raise more of their own revenue, and can benefit from peace and security and regional integration. The EU recognises that Policy Coherence for Development is central in achieving this.

We are also working in the EU to facilitate more effective political dialogue between Europe and Africa, and elsewhere, recognising our shared interests, our commitment to multilateralism and the importance of political and economic development for stability and prosperity.  

The EU is represented through some 140 EU Delegations and Offices around the world, many of which are in developing countries. This broad geographic representation means that the EU can operate in countries where Member States, including Ireland, are not present.

The development co-operation policy of the EU is guided by the new European Consensus on Development 2017, agreed by all the Member States, including Ireland.


Aid from the EU is producing results on the ground. In 2017 alone, over 15 million more children were enrolled in school. Almost 1.5 million women and children received nutrition support, and 136 million malaria-preventing bed nets were provided. The EU helped to protect human rights defenders from threats to their life, their personal security and their family. We supported global efforts to end violence against women and girls. The EU provided early assistance for the effects of climate change in the Caribbean – from humanitarian aid to high-definition satellite imagery in real-time – and worked to address the causes of extreme weather events. We supported sustainable energy in Africa and the Western Balkans, helping to preserve over 16 million hectares of the world’s natural heritage. And through the EU we provided almost 3.5 million people with access to sustainable energy.

How we work with the EU

Over a quarter of Ireland’s ODA is channeled through the EU institutions. In 2018, Ireland contributed €208.85 million through the EU. Ireland’s share of the EU Development Cooperation Budget was €152.65 million (of which €42.86 went to Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), €34.42 went to the European Neighbourhood Instrument, and €24.13 for humanitarian response). Other EU contributions from Ireland included the European Development Fund (€39.96 million), the Turkey Refugee Facility (€5.92 million), the European Investment Bank (€2.28 million), the EU Trust Fund for Africa (€7.30 million) and the EU Trust Fund for Colombia (€750,000).

Our Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Trade formally engage with other EU Foreign and Development Ministers, for example at the EU Foreign Affairs Council. We seek to influence EU polices through our participation in the following working parties where development policy and practice on key development priorities are addressed:

  • The Development Working Party (CODEV) deals with general aspects of development co-operation such as international commitments, aid effectiveness and policy coherence. It covers a variety of topics, including gender equality and reproductive health and crosscutting issues such as trade and development and environment
  • The African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Working Party deals with European co-operation with African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) as established by the Cotonou Agreement. The Cotonou Agreement, which expires in 2020, is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between the EU and developing countries. The agreement provides a framework for co-operation within the pillars of development and trade as well as a political dimension and negotiations are undergoing for the new agreement which will replace this.
  • The Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) working party allows for exchange of views on the humanitarian strategies and policies of the EU as well as response to humanitarian crises.
  • The Ad Hoc Working Party on the Neighborhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) which sets out to promote the EU’s interests, objectives and values in neighbouring and partner countries. The working party allows for the exchange of views on the NDICI which proposes to overhaul how the EU finances external actions under the forthcoming EU budget, the 2021-27 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

Ireland is an active participant in oversight of EU ODA programmes through its membership of management and operational committees. EU development assistance is subject to various forms of rigorous monitoring and evaluation by a number of different bodies: the European Court of Auditors; the EU’s Results-Oriented Monitoring (ROM) system, an external, independent review system; the EU’s Evaluation Unit; the European Parliament, and; contributing Member States, including Ireland. 

Detailed information of EU ODA can be found at the EU Aid Explorer.

Our partner countries

As well as engaging with the EU in Brussels, we also work in close co-operation with EU delegations and other EU Member State missions our partner countries