Click here to see Devex’s visualization of EuropeAid funding activities

The European Union institutions are the world’s fourth biggest donor of official development assistance, disbursing about $13.7 billion in net aid in 2015. That figure rose by more than 14 percent last year, according to the OECD — just as the world’s biggest donor, the United States, looks set to take a step back.

Given the importance of the EU to global development, Devex is embarking on an analysis of early-stage EuropeAid funding commitments, enabling our community to examine its priorities and projects. We’ve created a dataset with analyses and visualizations of EuropeAid funding, similar to our work around Asian Development Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development and World Bank funding.

This time, however, we go deeper. This data is unique — while it comes from public documents, it is not available in this aggregated, interactive format anywhere else. Devex has created a series of analyses and dashboards allowing you to explore the data region by region — click here to see our first visualization, giving you a global overview of where and on what EuropeAid money is being spent.

If you’re new to EuropeAid, it’s crucial to first understand more about the organization, its funding management and project cycle to make the best use of this data. Read Devex’s guide here.

What has Devex done, and what does the data tell us?

Devex has gathered and analyzed EuropeAid Action Fiches — operational documents for development projects — published between January 2016 and April 2017. We extracted the budget figures and used them to create an interactive dashboard, breaking down information about the funding’s geographic destinations, sectors of focus, financing instruments, management modalities and implementation modalities. All the funding details are accessible through Devex’s Funding Activity Feed.

Our data offers a snapshot in time of EuropeAid planned funding. It is important to remember that Action Fiches represent the point in the project cycle at which EuropeAid gives indicative budget figures; a first indication of how much it believes it will spend on different development activities, rather than a closed budget. We should also remember that the data analyzed is not comprehensive across the 2014-2020 programming period but shows us the distribution of the most recent EuropeAid planned funding commitments over a period of more than a year.

The total dataset covers 1,279 planned activities, each with a budget line item, detailed in 277 Action Fiches. Together they account for nearly 5.2 billion euros ($5.8 billion) in planned funding contributions from EuropeAid. This funding is broadly distributed across geographies, sectors and other dimensions.

Geographic Analysis: Where in the world is the money going?

Of the 5.2 billion euros ($5.8 billion) covered by the dataset, sub-Saharan Africa will receive over 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion), the most of any region. Over one billion euros ($1.29 billion) of that will go to the sub-region of West Africa — much of it funneled through the EU's Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to catalyze social and economic development in migration-prone countries. Asia will also receive over one billion euros ($1.09 billion), although it will be distributed more equitably across its sub-regions. The Middle East and North Africa will receive just over 419 million euros ($466 million), with 55 percent of that earmarked for Sudan and Yemen. However, much EU-funded development work in this region falls under the purview of the European Neighbourhood Instrument, or ENI, a funding instrument managed by the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. It operates separately from EuropeAid and is not included in this analysis.

Click here to see the visualization

Large amounts of funding are also being allocated to what we call “Worldwide” or “Multicontinental” programming. These are thematic programs targeting certain issues rather than geographies, such as the 10 million euro ($11 million) Aid for Trade programme, promoting the integration of least developed countries into international trade networks. Similarly, most regions have a sub-region called “Multiregional” — this denotes programming that cuts across multiple sub-regions. These programs often address regional integration, as with the 40 million euro ($43.8 million) Asi@Connect Programme, which works across Asia’s sub-regions, or the 32 million euro ($35 million) EUROsociAL+ programme across Latin America.

Financing Instrument Analysis: Which instruments is the money going through?

The EU’s spending plan for the period 2014-2020 — known as the Multiannual Financial Framework — allocated over 66 billion euros (in 2017 terms; $72 billion) to the external relations of the EU, most of which is administered by EuropeAid. This funding is disbursed through External Financing Instruments, which can be thought of as geographic or thematic “budgets” to which EuropeAid can allocate its funding.

The funding for one instrument — the European Development Fund, or EDF — does not come from the MFF, but from voluntary contributions made by EU members states. It has been allocated 30.5 billion euros ($33.4 billion) for the period 2014-2020, bringing the EU’s total allocation for external actions to over 95 billion euros ($104 billion).

The European Commission is due to present a mid-term review on these External Financing Instruments by the end of 2017, which might include decisions on the renewal, modification or suspension of certain types of actions and programming permitted under each instrument. In other words: There may be some important changes in store this year for EuropeAid. These are the instruments up for review.

Source: Devex

Breaking down the funding by instrument, the Development Cooperation Instrument, or DCI, has been allocated 19.6 billion euros ($21.4 billion) for the period 2014-2020. Of that, 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) appeared in the data we analyzed — the largest allocation to any funding instrument in our dataset. The DCI funds programs in 47 developing countries in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and South Africa. Traditionally, most of Africa has been covered by the EDF; however, the 845 million euro ($925 million) Pan-African Program was created in 2014 under the DCI, as part of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, so as to include all African countries.

The EDF is the second most funded instrument, and is dedicated to funding programming in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, with a thematic focus on economic development, social development and regional cooperation and integration. It has been allocated 30.5 billion euros ($33.4 billion)  for the period 2014-2020, of which 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) is included in our data. It is also worth noting that 80 percent of EDF funding captured in our data will be under indirect management — meaning that other institutions, not EuropeAid, will be responsible for managing procurement.

The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa is one of the newest EuropeAid funding instruments. Created in November 2015 specifically to promote stability and to address the root causes of irregular migration and displacement in Africa, following the arrival of large numbers of migrants and refugees in Europe, the EUTF has approved 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) so far, in addition to a further 59 million euros ($64 million) of funding for EUTF projects announced in April.

What next?

In the coming weeks, Devex will share further insights from the data, introducing three more analyses and visualizations. These will examine EuropeAid’s indicative funding commitments and priorities in Africa, Asia, and other developing regions, respectively. In these pieces, we’ll seek to answer three important, macro-level questions that many of our members have about funding: Where is the funding going? How is the funding being used? And who is responsible for distributing it?

Raquel Alcega, Devex’s development data team lead, also contributed reporting to this article.

Stay tuned for more, and click here to follow the series as it’s published.

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About the authors

  • Matthew Wolf

    Matthew Wolf works with the Devex Analytics team from Johannesburg in South Africa, helping improve our coverage of and insight into development work and funding around the world. He draws on work experience with Thomson Reuters in Africa, MENA and Latin America, where he helped uncover, pursue and win opportunities with local governments and donor agencies. He is interested in data-driven solutions to development challenges, results-based financing, and ICT4D.
  • Arnau Rovira

    Arnau Rovira is the knowledge management lead at Devex’s Analytics implementing information management solutions to the different data needs of the organization. He works remotely from Burundi. Previously, he worked in data collection management in Manila and as business intelligence analyst at Scytl, worldwide leader on electoral voting solutions. In his interest to the international and electoral affairs, he became an electoral observer. Until now, he has been deployed in Uruguay, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina.