In September 2005, the UN General Assembly will review progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs), agreed by the world community in 2000. As reports show, progress to date is insufficient to reach the MDGs by the target
date of 2015. The situation is particularly difficult in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, the continent also shows signs of progress towards democracy, higher growth rates over the last three years (4.5 % on average in 2004), real growth per capita (2 %) and improving fiscal balances.
The European Union has a particular role and responsibility in development cooperation, in particular concerning Africa. The Union is the largest global donor of development aid with 55 % of ODA (Official development aid) in terms of aid volume and the largest donor in Africa. The EU is also the most important economic and trade partner of the African continent.
In the light of this responsibility, the European Council seized the issue in December 2004 and invited the Commission ‘to
prepare specific and ambitious proposals for action, in particular in the areas of finance for development, coherence for development and focus on Africa’. The Council endorsed these proposals on 24 May 2005 and made them EU policy.