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Joint programming of development cooperation

Cooperating internationally to programme development aid and, develop a coordinated, strategic response to key global challenges.


Joint programming refers to a joint response from the EU and its member states to the national development plan of a partner country.

Together with national authorities, EU development partners develop a joint strategy fully aligned to the partner country's national development plan. A joint strategy sets out the overall rationale and direction for the support by the EU and EU countries. It also outlines which areas each of them will work in, what the overall objectives for these areas are, and gives provisional figures for their financing over the joint strategy period.

The timing of the joint strategy is synchronised to match the timing of the partner country's national plans. In that way, EU development partners plan and implement at the same time and for the same period as the government. EU partners can therefore be more responsive to national needs.

The joint strategy is developed at the partner country level to ensure that it provides the best possible response to the situation. This also allows close cooperation with other stakeholders.

Non-EU development partners who share the principles of Joint Programming are welcome to sign up to the strategy too.

Benefits of Joint Programming

Joint Programming is expected to lower transaction costs for partner governments as they will have only one programming exercise to deal with for all EU development partners.

Joint Programming also makes aid more coherent and less fragmented, as cooperation helps cut out gaps and overlaps. Moreover, there will be a higher impact and better value for money, as EU development partners combine their resources. As EU countries make up more than half of official development aid funding (ODA) worldwide, Joint Programming is expected to make a real difference to global aid effectiveness, improving how tens of billions of euros are spent each year.

For EU national constituencies, Joint Programming can also help to raise awareness, improve public perception, and increase accountability.

There may also be less pressure on each individual EU development partner to tackle all of the sectors and issues in a given country that are in need of attention. EU development partners can credibly demonstrate that they are part of a unified Joint Programming which, through a division of labour, ensures that all relevant sectors and issues are being covered.

There will be more opportunities for joint initiatives on the ground, as EU development partners are planning at the same time and for the same period. This is expected to generate savings in terms of economies of scale and reduced overhead costs.

Joint Programming can make Europe happen on the ground, translating shared European values and policies on issues such as fundamental rights and good governance into coherent, targeted action in partner countries.

International context and commitments

The EU’s Treaty of Lisbon promised more collaboration between EU countries, including on development policy. Joint Programming is one of the key commitments by EU countries that work together in development, to ensure that aid is effective. Joint Programming is enshrined in the 2017 European Consensus for Development and featured strongly in the Agenda for Change, the overall 2012 EU development policy.

All of these commitments are reflected in the EU Council Conclusions of November 2011, which provides overall policy direction for the EU and EU countries.