Written by Alina Dobreva
EU Humanitarian Aid (HA) provides a needs-based emergency response to natural disasters and man-made crises outside the EU, in order to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and protect the human dignity of affected populations. It provides relief regardless of recipients’ nationality, religion, gender or ethnic origin, and based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.
The budget allocated to HA for the entire 2014-2020 period amounts to over €6 billion (for 2015, it is €928.84 million), but because crises are unpredictable, the budgetary allocations for HA expenditure are often amended. For example, in 2015, additional funds were allocated to address the consequences of the conflict in Syria. The EU, together with its Member States, is the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid, although the funds allocated to it amount to less than 1% of the EU’s annual budget. The main types of assistance include food; water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance; health care; emergency shelter; and protective humanitarian assistance aimed at reducing the risk of, and mitigating the impact of, violence, coercion, deprivation and abuse, in the context of humanitarian crises.
Humanitarian emergencies are increasing in both number and complexity. Greater demands are placed on the budget due to the combined effects of climate change, population growth putting pressure on natural resources, a rising number of fragile states at risk of instability and civil conflicts, an increased threat of terrorist attacks, and a large number of man-made crises resulting from armed and military conflicts.
According to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), humanitarian aid is a shared competence between the EU and its Member States. The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid expresses the EU’s firm commitment to humanitarian aid, and guarantees coordination and consistency in the way it is delivered, confirming the leading role of the European Commission as coordinator. The EU, together with its Member States, is the leading donor because of the broad geographical scope of its HA, the amount of money allocated, and the setting of standards related to aid provision.
The operational part of HA is not implemented by third country governments, but by over 200 partner relief organisations, including specialised Member State agencies, UN agencies, international organisations, and NGOs, who collaborate on the basis of individual Framework Partnership Agreements.
Read the complete publication on ‘How the EU budget is spent: Humanitarian Aid‘ in PDF.