GIZ has been implementing projects and programmes on behalf of the European Union (EU) since the early 1980s. The countries of South-East Europe are a particular focus of this work, but GIZ also carries out projects in accession and neighbourhood countries. It supports reform processes in sectors such as justice, administration and renewable energies on behalf of the German Government and the EU. GIZ also works on behalf of the EU in developing countries and emerging economies, focusing, for example, on poverty reduction, economic development, human rights and democracy-building. It opened an office in Brussels in 1993. GIZ is an important partner for the EU, particularly in the context of international cooperation.
Together, the EU and its 28 Member States are the world’s largest international development donor, providing more than 50 per cent of global official development assistance. The EU is engaged in development cooperation with more than 150 countries around the world, ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. As the world’s largest single market, the EU is an important trading partner for many developing countries. It has signed agreements on preferential trade arrangements, technical and financial assistance or political cooperation with more than 160 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is actively engaged in numerous policy areas – from employment, the environment and climate change mitigation, trade, transport and security to international cooperation and humanitarian assistance. It also encourages development at home, for example through its Europe 2020 strategy, which aims to stimulate growth by investing in education, research and innovation, promoting a green economy, creating jobs and reducing poverty.
With its enlargement and European neighbourhood policy, the EU promotes stability and common standards in nearby countries and prepares selected candidates for accession. GIZ also works on behalf of the German Government to support candidate countries, such as Macedonia and Albania, in preparing for accession negotiations. Furthermore, with funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, GIZ is assisting Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria, for example, to utilise wood biomass as an alternative energy source and establish sustainable regional supply chains. And on behalf of the EU, GIZ is advising Turkey on establishing a competitive, low-impact tourism sector.
In 2011, the EU adopted its Agenda for Change, a set of European development policy guidelines which prioritise issues such as poverty reduction and sustainable development. GIZ can provide valuable support here. For example, on behalf of the EU, GIZ has been responsible for organising logistical and security aspects of European election observation missions in countries such as Mali, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Jordan and Paraguay. In Nigeria, it is implementing an EU-funded project to improve conditions for investment in renewable energy. And in the Pacific region, GIZ is working with the EU to promote resilience to climate change.
Within Europe, too, GIZ is assisting the EU to achieve its objectives. For example, having provided support for Croatia’s EU accession process, GIZ is now co-organising a German-Croatian exchange programme which offers young people from that country an opportunity to gain work experience in German businesses.