Analysis of Development Co-operation
  Documents   Useful links   FAQ   Contact us  
Treaties Newsflash
Treaty of Amsterdam - TEC TEU
Treaty of Maastricht - TEU
Barroso wants to launch first 'project bonds' by June -

Commission President José Manuel Barroso has unveiled one of the initiatives to be adopted by EU leaders at their 1-2 March summit, the launch by June of 'bonds for growth' or 'project bonds' to boost investment in energy, transport and the digital economy.

Latin America's past offers lessons on debt, but are EU ministers bothered? -

It's said Europe could learn from previous debt crises, but what if ministers know this and are simply putting banks before people?

Solidarity and Austerity: The 2012 State of the European Union-conference Friends of Europe -

Please find the summary of discussions.

Main Menu

RSS News Feeds

Quizzes on the EU

Why not quiz yourself on the European Union?
Integration / Institutions / Decision-Making / Policy Areas
EU Quizzes
Article 208 PDF Print E-mail

1. Union policy in the field of development cooperation shall be conducted within the framework of the principles and objectives of the Union's external action. The Union's development cooperation policy and that of the Member States complement and reinforce each other.

Union development cooperation policy shall have as its primary objective the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty. The Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries.

2. The Union and the Member States shall comply with the commitments and take account of the objectives they have approved in the context of the United Nations and other competent international organisations.


  • Maastricht

The first legal basis was EU development cooperation was introduced in 1992 in the Maastricht Treaty. It established the objectives of European development cooperation as follows:

  1. To fight against poverty in developing countries;
  2. To enhance the social and sustainable development of developing countries, particularly the least favoured among them; and
  3. To further the integration of developing countries into the world economy.

It defined three principles upon which EC development policy should be based:

  1. Complementarity between development policies of the Member States and the European Commission;
  2. Coordination between Member States and the Commission at headquarters and in recpient countries; and
  3. Coherence of all Community policies so that they take development objectives in the South into account.
  • Amsterdam

The Amsterdam Treaty (1997) added a fourth principle:

4. Consistency of all external activities of the European in the context of all external relations: security, economic and development policies.


  • Article 208 applies to all developing countries.
  • National development policies and the EU policy should not only complement each other, they have to reinforce each other.
  • The eradication of poverty is the primary objective of EU development policy.
  • The coherence clause, which was introduced in the Maastricht Treaty, has been included in this article.
  • The Union and the Member States shall apply with their UN commitments.


This article is a major improvement for several reasons:

  • Cooperation with developing countries is clearly described in Articles 208 to 211 and Article 212 even refers to these articles by stating that economic, financial and technical cooperation should not prejudice provisions within the development articles.
  • It is, therefore, very clear that the EU offers two different frameworks of cooperation with third countries:
  1. Development cooperation (Articles 208 to 211) to all developing countries.
  2. Economic, financial and technical cooperation (Articles 212 to 213) to third countries other than developing countries.
  • Articles 208 to 211 are included in a section called 'Development Cooperation'. The section which follows this one is called 'Economic, Financial and Technical Cooperation' (Articles 212 and 213) and it reflects an article introduced in the Nice Treaty in order to provide a legal basis for pre-accession aid (Article 181a TEC). There have been attempts within the Convention on the Future of Europe and the intergovernmental conference to open the section 'Economic, Financial and Technical Cooperation' to developing countries. This would have allowed the EU to deal with developing countries without putting the overarching objective of poverty eradication at the forefront. Hopefully, pressure from civil society has contributed to clarifying the scope of the section 'Economic, Financial and Technical Cooperation' by excluding developing countries from it. This then results in the section 'Development Cooperation' covering the EU's relations with all developing countries. This clarification on the scope of EU's development policy in the Lisbon Treaty has to apply to the policies, institutions and finances allocated to development in the EU.
  • The fact that Member States' development policies and the EU policy should complement and reinforce each other will help in harmonising the policies of the 27 Member States with EU standards.
  • Above the objectives set out in Article 21, the primary aim of EU development policy is 'the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty'. This is a major achievement for the development community as it opens doors for a real policy with objectives independent from the other external policies of the Union.
  • The coherence clause is of the greatest importance as it will help in changing EU policies such as agriculture or fisheries so that they do not run counter to development objectives. It will also contribute to strengthening the position of development vis-à-vis the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The coherence clause introduced is in line with the Maastricht Treaty which states that 'the Community shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries'. This clause is much stronger than the consistency between all areas of the EU's external actions introduced in the Amsterdam Treaty. Consistency has been introduced in Article 21.


  • Draws on Articles 177(1), 177(3) and 178 TEC