Humanitarian Aid : Commission Proposes a European Consensus
The European Commission is looking to set out common principles to guide the actions of EU players to make the EU's humanitarian aid more coherent and effective. In a communication to be presented by the college of commissioners in Brussels on 13 June, the Commission will put forward to member states and the European Parliament the idea of defining a European consensus on humanitarian aid, rather like the one it adopted on development aid in 2005. The document, of which a copy was obtained by Europolitics, says that is time for the EU as a whole to express itself more actively on the substance of what constitute the principles and good practices for humanitarian aid and to indicate how to translate them into practice. The aim is to go further than the guidelines set out in June 2003 in the Initiative on Principles and Good Practices for Humanitarian Aid. Louis Michel, the EU's commissioner in charge of humanitarian aid, thinks that the effectiveness and impact of EU aid could be considerably improved via increased coordination and an exchange of information between the different EU players, member states, Commission and NGOs. Moreover, coordination in the major international arenas would enable the EU's political influence to grow. The EU is already the world's leading donor, with more than two billion euro worth of Commission and member state humanitarian aid distributed in 2006. The idea is to make the crisis management actions of ECHO, the Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office, and those of member states and the many European NGOs more complementary. This would be done by identifying the shortcomings that need to be improved and to make concrete proposals at the global level, in particular by creating regional disaster reaction units that would be on standby and on the spot.
Defining and defending humanitarian principles is the key point of the project. Humanitarian action is faced with new challenges in the 21st century. …