EU's Humanitarian and Civil Protection Aid. Italy's Eccentric and ECHO-Consistent Policy

By Attinà, Fulvio | Romanian Journal of European Affairs, March 2016 | Go to article overview

EU's Humanitarian and Civil Protection Aid. Italy's Eccentric and ECHO-Consistent Policy


Attinà, Fulvio, Romanian Journal of European Affairs


Humanitarian and civil protection aid is given by national governments and international organisations to countries in need of funds to save lives, alleviate suffering during and after human-made and natural disasters, and to prevent and temper the impact of such events by promoting preparedness programmes and mechanisms. These goals are met by funding actions like the provision of food, water and sanitation, shelter, health services and other items of assistance to help the affected people and facilitate the return to normal life conditions.

Humanitarian and civil protection actions and programmes are of great concern to the European Union and the object of a policy area which is shared with the Member States (MSs). This study draws the attention of concerned students and practitioners to the existence of highly similar approaches towards this policy area and to some implications of it. In the present paper, the EU's and MSs' official aid is the amount of Euros spent by ECHO and the governments of the EU countries to fund actions and programmes in response to humanitarian emergencies caused by natural disasters and human-triggered tragedies in foreign countries. Such official aid is given to foreign state governments, international organizations, private companies and non-governmental organizations to implement, in the aid-receiving countries, one or more of the following responses (a) humanitarian actions and assistance, (b) disaster rescue operations and post-disaster reconstruction programmes, and (c) programmes for natural disaster prevention and for post-conflict peace building and state reconstruction.

The administration officers of the aid recipient country and other implementing actors like international and non-governmental organisations' officers and appointees carry out the humanitarian and protection actions. Though implementing the actions is in the hands of others, it is in the responsibility and concern of the donor country to finance actions in agreement with the shared humanitarian principles. Aid must be given firstly to the most in need, weak and vulnerable human beings (proportionality), by refraining from discriminating any group of people (impartiality), and by supporting any side in a conflict and dispute (neutrality), and leaving out any political, economic, military or other intent (independence).

In the first part of the present paper, the yearly expenditure of ECHO and the EU major donor countries is analysed to test whether they share the same or near the same aid allocation approach. In view of the eccentric position of Italy's aid policy that turns up in the first part of this study, in the second part the analysis of the correspondence of the Italian funds to the ECHO'S need assessment measurement, the GVCA and FCA indexes, demonstrates Italy's good compliance to the proportionality principle of humanitarian action and also the good consistency with the EU's policy towards humanitarian and civil protection aid. In the conclusions, the reasons for keeping the humanitarian aid as shared powers area of the EU and the Member States are briefly remarked upon, and the meaning of Italy's eccentric aid is discussed.

Do EU and the MSs share the same approach towards countries in need?

Numerous studies exist about the question of what is the primary reason in determining the international aid of rich and technologically advanced states like the European ones (see, for instance, Holden, 2009; Kevlihan, DeRouen and Biglaiser, 2014; Kono and Montinola, 2012; McKinley and Little, 1979; Merket, 2013; Reynaert, 2011; Rudloff, Scott and Blew, 2013; Schneider and Tobin, 2013). In this chapter, the issue about the determinants of humanitarian and civil protection aid is analysed by responding to two questions. First, Do the EU Member States share the same approach towards humanitarian needs and civil protection aid? Second, Do the Member States'aid matches the need-goal criteria of the ECHO'S aid policy? …

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