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Treaties define the rationale of our work. The Lisbon Treaty  is the legal foundation in the European Union’s (EU) aspiration to reshape its external action in a more coherent and efficient way (Art. 3 TEU). It follows the values on which the EU itself is founded upon: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities (Art.2 TEU).

The Treaty gives increased prominence to poverty reduction, reflected both in the overall EU values (Art.3.5 TEU), and as a primary objective of EU external action (Art. 21 and Art. 208 TEU). The Treaty confirms that the Union’s development policy is the principal framework governing EU cooperation with developing countries. It makes the distinction between the framework to apply to engage with developing countries, with ‘third countries other than developing countries’ (Art. 212.1 TEU), and with neighbouring countries, by providing the legal basis for the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) (Art. 8 TEU).

The EU also supports a comprehensive approach to its external action (Art.8 TEU). This includes taking a holistic view in terms of policies and approaches necessary for sustainable development, such as peace and security, environmental protection, good governance and human rights – including gender equality, innovation, action to mitigate the effects of climate change and fair international economic relations (Art.21.2 TEU).

It also implies taking a partnership approach, at the bilateral and multilateral levels, including Member States (Art. 208 TFEU) and Art. 210 TFEU) and International Organisations (Art. 21 TEU and Art. 212 TFEU). The Treaty pledged more joint working and “whole of Europe” approaches, including on development policy. Joint programming (eventually leading to joint implementation) is one of the key aid effectiveness commitments of EU development partners.

Another integral part of the Consensus, and thus a key priority of EU development policy, is to build resilience at all levels through support in regions in a situation of fragility and conflict.

Finally yet importantly, the Treaty also calls for the EU external action to be ‘consistent’ with its overall objectives. It sees its responsibility in ensuring that other areas of EU policy with an external dimension, such as trade or migration, are coherent with the general EU foreign policy (Art. 208 TFEU and Art. 21 TEU) (Policy coherence for development).

EU development policy is further specified in the European Consensus for Development (2017), which aligns the EU’s development policy with the 2030 Agenda.

The policies and commitments mentioned below provide the overall policy framework for implementation of European Union interventions. They lay the groundwork for the key principles guiding EU international cooperation for development. These principles are a compass to be used throughout the intervention cycle, from programming to closure.