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EU’s international cooperation and development aid: business opportunities

Eugene Eteris, RSU/BC, Riga, 27.11.2017.Print version
The European Commission revealed concrete investment areas in the EU’s External Investment Plan. This plan will mobilise €44 billion of sustainable investment for African and EU’s neighbourhood countries. Such investments are expected to reduce emigrants’ flow to Europe and help to assist businesses interested in external activities.

The European Commission wishes to invite eligible financial institutions, such as development banks, to present their concrete proposals for investment programmes within the five areas mentioned below. After an assessment by the Commission and independent experts, a number of selected financial institutions will be entrusted with managing these investment programmes. The first agreements with such financial institutions are expected to be signed in the first half of 2018.

Commission’s opinion

EU High Representative/Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini underlined that the European External Investment Plan (EEIP) has been the largest ever investment programme for Africa. Presently, only four per cent of total global foreign direct investment goes to Africa.

With the European External Investment Plan, the EU can raise at least €44 billion in private investment by 2020, notably for the most fragile parts of the African continent. This is a strong signal of the strengthened partnership with Africa, which is going to be reviewed at the EU-Africa Summit at the end of November 2017.  


Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added that the Commission’s present decision the EU was setting the agenda for sustainable investments. Unlocking the potential of sustainable energy, promoting digitalisation for development or supporting micro, small and medium sized enterprises will help to create sustainable development and reduce poverty on African continent.


Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn commented that the investment areas represent real opportunities for businesses and social partners in the EU states, including private and public sectors. Securing a good climate for cooperation, these investments will contribute to sustainable growth; therefore EEIP is expected to bring tangible results providing for job creation and greater competitiveness, stronger economy, governance, connectivity, and stronger societies. 

Five main spheres of investment

The European Commission defined five main areas of investment, so-called "investment windows", in which the actions of the External Investment Plan (EIP) will be implemented. These investment areas are crucial for the sustainable development in countries in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood countries.


The five investment windows include:

·         "Sustainable energy and connectivity": aimed at attracting investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and transport.  

·         "Micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) financing": aimed at improving MSME's access to finance. Such kinds of businesses are the main employers in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood states, and offer important and more sustainable alternatives to the informal economy.

·         "Sustainable agriculture, rural entrepreneurs and agro-business": aimed at providing better access to finance for smallholders, cooperatives and micro, small and medium sized enterprises in agro-business sectors. This investment will allow addressing food security issues.

·         "Sustainable cities": aimed at mobilise investments in sustainable urban development of municipal infrastructure, including urban mobility, water, sanitation, waste management, renewable energy services.

·         "Digital agenda for development": aimed at promoting investments in innovative digital solutions for local needs, financial inclusion and decent job creation.

Guiding information for entrepreneurs

Businesses and organisations, which would like to benefit from support under the External Investment Plan EIP, will then be able to contact these financial institutions with their project proposals.


A dedicated EIP secretariat and a web portal will help to guide interested businesses.

Projects have to have a clear sustainable development objective and contribute to economic and social development, with a focus on sustainability and job creation, particularly for youth and women.


Investment proposals should provide adequate risk sharing, be economically and financially viable, as well as socially and environmentally sustainable. They have to address market failures or sub-optimal investment situations and must not distort market competition.


More information in the following websites: = EIP Website with email address and the Manual (once approved) will be available on the EIP Website; = Q&A about the European External Investment Plan; = Press release on the formal adoption of the EIP; = More details on pillar assessment  

Source: Commission press release “European Union's External Investment Plan: green light for the first five investment areas”, Brussels, 23 November 2017, in:  

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