Although the EU and its Members States have scaled up their efforts with regard to human development, and in particular with regard to providing universal health coverage, access to education and adequate social protection, basic nutrition and food security, the EU’s collective ODA for human development is still below the 20 % benchmark (15 % in 2016, rising to 17 % in 2017 of collective EU ODA).
EU support is channelled through international initiatives and multilateral funds, and through bilateral cooperation in the framework of multiannual indicative plans developed on the basis of national development programmes of partner countries, and implemented in the form of project or budget support. For example, the EU has been supporting, mostly through multilateral initiatives, funded in particular under the Thematic programme on global public goods and challenges of the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), the fight against particular diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and ebola. On the other hand, it has focused increasingly on the overall reinforcement of national health systems, funded through the European Development Fund for ACP countries and through the Geographic programme of the DCI for all other developing countries. For the 2014-2020 period, about €1.3 billion out of a total of €2.6 billion of EU aid allocated to health is in the form of direct support to 17 countries, where health is a sector of bilateral cooperation. In the area of education, the EU has reinforced its financial support (up to €475 million for 2014-2020) and its policy support for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which supports basic education in the poorest countries with a strong focus on equity of access and quality. The EU is also an active supporter of education in crisis situations.
Building social protection systems is in the centre of EU action against poverty. The EU approach, which is based on a 2012 European Commission communication on Social protection in development cooperation in the European Union, was further refined in a 2015 Commission concept paper on Supporting Social Protection Systems. The EU and its Member States (in particular Belgium, Finland, France, Germany and Sweden) are supporting the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection set up in September 2016 by the World Bank and the International Labour Organization in order to increase the number of countries that provide social protection for all, and help them design universal and sustainable social protection systems. In 2013, the EU launched SOCIEUX+, a peer-to-peer technical assistance facility seeking to enhance the capacities of partner countries to better design inclusive, effective and sustainable social protection systems and to extend social protection coverage to poor and vulnerable populations.