Skip to main content

European Union

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 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 and countries facing vulnerability and fragility.

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 €75.2 billion in 2019. This is over half of the global ODA provided by donors.

The EU and its Member States collectively provided more than €8bn in humanitarian aid in 2019, making the EU the single largest humanitarian donor in the world. Based on the humanitarian principles and as set out in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, the EU provides needs-based, life-saving assistance to people affected by man-made and natural disasters, with particular attention to the most vulnerable. Ireland works closely with its fellow EU Member States and the European Commission to maximise the impact of EU humanitarian aid.

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, the Caribbean and the Pacific, 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 2018 alone, over 10 million more children were enrolled in school with EU support. Almost 64 million one year olds were fully immunised and more than €500 million went towards eliminating violence against women and girls around the world under the Spotlight Initiative. The EU helps to protect human rights defenders from threats to their life, their personal security and their family. 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.

The EU mobilised €36 billion to fight the COVID 19 pandemic worldwide through the Team Europe response supporting the most vulnerable countries and people most at risk.

How we work with the EU

Over a quarter of Ireland's ODA is channeled through the EU institutions. In 2019, Ireland contributed €213.93 million through the EU. Ireland's share of the EU Development Cooperation Budget was €159.61 million (of which €42.85 went to Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), €33.70 went to the European Neighbourhood Instrument, and €29.80 for humanitarian response). Other EU contributions from Ireland included the European Development Fund (€41.36 million), the Turkey Refugee Facility (€4.93 million), the European Investment Bank (€2.73 million), the EU Trust Fund for Africa (€4.55 million) and the EU Trust Fund for Colombia (€750,000).

Our Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 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 in Brussels 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 Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) is the key EU forum for coordination and discussion of humanitarian policy, responses to specific crises, and the implementation of EU humanitarian policy. Ireland also participates in the Humanitarian Aid Committee (HAC), which plays an advisory role to the European Commission's humanitarian arm.

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 in our partner countries