The Council today approved conclusions stressing the need for a renewed focus on support for and advancement of human development across EU external engagement, to ensure that no-one is left behind.
In line with the new European Consensus on Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the conclusions underline the key role that support for human development has to play in the eradication of poverty and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Council recognises the added value and mutually beneficial potential of promoting human development as a key component of the EU’s development approach in the current geopolitical context, and advocates a strengthened Team Europe approach that is driven by the priorities of partner countries and the goal of establishing ownership, recognising the critical role played by civil society in delivering human development outcomes.
The conclusions stress that health and education are key building blocks of human development and acknowledges that systemic support for these sectors is crucial to ensuring prevention and recovery, strengthening resilience, promoting stability and sustainable growth, and mitigating the long-term impact of the pandemic on income loss and poverty.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its negative socioeconomic consequences represent an unprecedented shock to human development efforts and have threatened the gains achieved over the past decades. The Council therefore emphasises the importance of continued efforts to ensure universal and equitable access to essential medicines, vaccines and health technologies for all, most notably through the EU’s and member states’ support for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and COVAX. The EU supports strengthening the capacities of partner countries to conduct vaccine roll-out campaigns.
The pandemic has also threatened global food security and social cohesion, and could exacerbate inequalities. This is why the Council recalls that recovery efforts should be human-centred and based on the principle of ‘build back better and greener’, while also focusing on human rights.
Finally, the Council calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service to take concrete financial actions to support health, education, social protection and other social provision, in order to reach the spending target of 20% of Official Development Assistance (ODA), in line with the new European Consensus on Development and the newly adopted Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI-Global Europe).