The EU as a global player
The EU confirmed its status as the biggest aid donor in the world with assistance provided to 122 million people in over 90 non-member countries in 2012.
The EU helped millions in the Sahel facing hunger, and humanitarian assistance reached hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing conflict in their country in 2012.
Through the European humanitarian volunteer programme, 25 young people from around Europe went to countries in Africa, Asia or Central America to be trained in preparation for a career in aid work.
Public support for humanitarian aid has gone up in the EU in spite of the economic crisis: a Eurobarometer survey showed that 88 % of European citizens believe it is important for the EU to continue funding humanitarian aid.
This part of the budget finances EU activities beyond its borders. Its paramount objectives are stability, security and neighbourhood prosperity. The EU’s more proactive foreign and security policy enables it to carry out crisis management and peacekeeping missions in Europe and far beyond.
The enlargement policy is one of the most effective EU foreign policy instruments, providing a strong stimulus for political and economic reforms in candidate countries. In 2012, the EU provided focused pre-accession financial aid to six candidate countries (Croatia (1), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) and three potential candidates (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (2)) intended to help these countries carry out political, economic and institutional reforms in line with EU standards with a view to their eventual accession to the EU.
The implementation of the enlargement policy is supported by the IPA financial instrument 2007–13. The IPA is the main driver for the preparation of candidate countries and potential candidates for future EU membership. It is designed to give countries a ‘test run’ of the obligations of membership before accession (such as putting in place institutions for managing post-accession EU funds, and adopting the acquis and EU standards) and contributes to strengthening democratic institutions, administrative and judicial capacity, and civil society. The pre-accession funds also help the EU to reach its own objectives, such as sustainable economic recovery, energy supply, transport, the environment and climate change.
The progress of beneficiary countries towards meeting the conditions for accession and the terms of the stabilisation and association agreements was continuously monitored and assessed. In the enlargement package (3), the Commission reiterated its recommendation for the opening of EU accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Commission also reported on the fulfilment of the priorities set out in the opinions on Serbia and Albania and assessed whether enough progress had been made to recommend the opening of EU accession negotiations. EU–Serbia relations have moved into a new phase, with the granting of candidate country status to Serbia by the European Council in March 2012. On Turkey, the Commission reported on the successful launch of the positive agenda to support and to complement the accession negotiations. In May 2012, the Commission reiterated its assessment that Montenegro has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria, and in particular the Copenhagen political criteria. The Council endorsed this assessment, and in June 2012 accession negotiations with Montenegro were opened.
Regional cooperation in the western Balkans has improved in 2012 on a number of issues, including the agreement reached under the Belgrade–Pristina dialogue on the participation of Kosovo in regional cooperation bodies; the agreement on a regional housing programme under the Sarajevo process for refugees; the development of an energy strategy and national energy-efficiency plans within the Energy Community and the development of growth targets under the south-east Europe 2020 agenda. In 2012, a number of important milestones were reached related to the establishment of the regulatory and strategic framework of pre-accession assistance post-2013 (IPA II), the development of the sector approach and aiding transparency.
Results in the field are materialising, as shown by the steady progress on institution building and convergence towards European standards, and not least by the opening of accession negotiations with Montenegro and the finalisation of preparations for Croatia’s accession, becoming the 28th EU Member State on 1 July 2013.
A total of EUR 1 230 million was spent on the IPA in 2012.
The gender equality programme in Montenegro (2010) was a 3-year project targeting the promotion of personal integrity, economic status and political representation of women in Montenegro. It was designed to support the development of gender-responsive policies in Montenegro and to boost the implementation of national legislation and international standards related to gender equality. The main outcome of this programme successfully led to advocating for the introduction of a 30 % quota for women in the election law and significantly contributed to the political empowerment of women through tailor-made education programmes for 167 female politicians. In addition to supporting the development of a new action plan for gender equality covering 2013–17, there was the implementation of anti-violence legislation through a code of conduct for institutions dealing with violence and training for police officers and social workers in this area. Support was also provided for the development of a centralised database on victims and perpetrators with indicators which will enable institutions to monitor trends related to violence.
EU contribution: EUR 700 000
The aim of the humanitarian aid policy is to provide ad hoc assistance, relief and protection for people in non-member countries who are victims of natural or man-made disasters, in order to meet the humanitarian needs resulting from these situations.
Over the years, the EU has acquired a high level of recognition as a reference donor and important contributor to humanitarian action. The EU leads the way in ensuring that humanitarian aid allocations are needs based and that no humanitarian crisis is overlooked in the international humanitarian response. It is also in a unique position to be able to encourage other humanitarian donors to implement effective and principled humanitarian aid strategies and has a comparative advantage in being able to intervene in politically sensitive situations more flexibly.
Furthermore, the EU is well positioned to rapidly complement, as required, EU Member States’ bilateral contributions in response to a crisis. A share of the annual EU humanitarian aid budget is pre-allocated to ongoing crises (in some cases the Commission is the only donor, namely in ‘forgotten crises’) and for prevention/preparedness measures, while the rest is deployed to respond to new crises or the deterioration of existing ones.
Civil protection activities in non-member countries complement humanitarian activities and, within the EU, support the efforts of EU Member States’ civil protection activities.
The Commission is one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid donors and the European Union and its Member States together make up the world’s leading humanitarian donor, providing about half of global funding for emergency relief to victims of man-made and natural disasters.
In 2012, the Commission provided needs-based humanitarian assistance to more than 122 million people in over 90 non-member countries, of which 52 were vulnerable countries/territories. It has been present for all major emergencies and covered almost all the countries facing food assistance crises. It also dedicated 15 % of its initial 2012 budget to forgotten crises which are overlooked by the global media and the international humanitarian community.
The vast majority of the funding in 2012 was, as in previous years, dedicated to Africa (51 %). Substantial assistance was also provided in the Middle East (Syria and neighbouring countries), for the Myanmar/Burma crisis and for the natural disasters in south-east Asia and the Caribbean.
Furthermore, the EU civil protection mechanism was activated 38 times.
A total of EUR 1 053 million was spent on humanitarian aid in 2012.
In terms of ‘man-made crises’, the impact of the Arab Spring is taking a heavy toll on Syria after the events in Libya last year. The human rights crisis deteriorated into a full-fledged conflict. A major influx of Syrian refugees was registered in 2012 in the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. By the first quarter of 2013, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that more than 4 million people were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The number of refugees stood at almost 1 100 000, with the number of food-insecure people inside Syria rising to 3 million and the number of internally displaced persons increasing to around 3.6 million. The needs to be addressed cover many intervention sectors like food, protection, water and sanitation, shelter, medical supplies, psychosocial support and nutritional items. By the end of 2012, EUR 155 million was already committed to cope with the humanitarian situation in Syria.
The Commission also responded to protracted and complex emergencies. For example, it allocated in 2012 around EUR 157 million to cope with the Sudan and South Sudan crisis. Since the separation of Sudan into two countries in July 2011, the continuous conflict in the Sudanese border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, has resulted in 173 000 refugees fleeing to South Sudan and 35 000 to Ethiopia. Periodic outbreaks of interethnic conflict in South Sudan have led to 183 000 people being displaced from their homes
1 Croatia became a member of the EU on 1 July 2013.
2 This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.