Launch of the 20th anniversary of ECHO: extracts from the welcome speech by Kristalina Georgieva and the opening speech by José Manuel Barroso
On 20 March 2012, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the EC in charge of International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, participated in the launch of the 20th anniversary of the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). This anniversary was a good reason to celebrate and an occasion to recall the essential work that ECHO and its staff were performing every day. The event was entitled "ECHO@20 - We care, we act".
In his opening speech the President highlighted that the EU, together with its partners, had been able to reach out to nearly 150 million of people in need, in over 80 countries. ECHO started in the beginning of the 1990ies after a series of extreme humanitarian catastrophes. European countries were at the forefront of international efforts to bring relief, but the volume of disasters called for a more coordinated approach.
José Manuel Barroso underlined that the case for 'more Europe', also in the humanitarian field, was obvious. He added that ECHO's work was far from symbolic and it meant concrete and rapid help on the ground.
The President concluded with a tribute to the generosity of the European citizens. Thanks to them, the EU was and remained the world’s leading donor, in humanitarian aid and beyond.