The European Union (EU) is one of UNHCR's most important partners. The grouping as whole - the European Commission (EC) and the 27 EU member states - provides close to half of UNHCR's annual funding. EU members Denmark, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom were all among the top 10 donors to UNHCR's worldwide programmes in 2008.
The EC, which supports protection and assistance activities through earmarked contributions, was UNHCR's second largest donor in 2008, trailing only the United States. The most significant EC support is for UNHCR operations in Africa and Asia, with smaller but important contributions to programmes in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe, including some through the European Refugee Fund.
The Commission is a major provider of humanitarian and development aid, and a key player in the international effort to develop policies to improve aid effectiveness and coordination at the global level.
UNHCR has an established partnership with the European Commission, and works closely with several of its departments to increase support for refugees, internally displaced people and stateless people around the world.
The European Union and its member states currently provide over 56% of all official development assistance delivered by the major industrialised countries. In 2006, the total value was €47 billion, which translates to nearly €100 per citizen. This compares to €53 per citizen from the United States and €69 from Japan. In 2006 European aid rose to 0.42% of gross national income (GNI), still short of the UN target of 0.7% of GNI. Only four EU countries, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden, have achieved (and exceeded) the UN target. The EU has set 2015 as the year for reaching the collective target of 0.7%, with an interim target of 0.56% set for 2010. African countries receive €15 billion annually, the lion's share of EU development assistance.