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Abstract

European countries pride themselves on being leaders in spurring development within poor countries. We find that Europe’s approach to development could be characterised as energetically tackling the symptoms of poor economic opportunities for developing countries by providing effective aid, while doing relatively little to tackle the underlying structural causes of poverty.

We use the Center for Global Development Commitment to Development Index (CDI) as a tool to examine Europe’s performance overall. We combine the scores for the twenty-one European countries which are included in the 2012 edition of the Commitment to Development Index to calculate the single score they would have obtained if they had been a single country. This represents the combined commitment to development of these countries, by giving appropriate weight to the larger, more populous countries in Europe, which tend to have less development-friendly policies than the Nordic countries and the Netherlands. Our calculations show that compared to the other countries in the CDI, Europe as a whole performs better than most CDI countries on aid and environment, but less well in other dimensions such as trade and security.

This paper provides the background to a series of more detailed studies of the policies of European countries, individually and collectively through the European Union, in each dimension of the CDI, which the Center for Global Development in Europe is coordinating.