The European Commission welcomes the fast agreement Member States reached today on its proposal for an 'Emergency Assistance Instrument' to provide faster means of support to EU countries facing major humanitarian crises, such as dealing with large numbers of refugees.
The positive support comes just one week after the Commission put forward the proposal to provide €700 million over the next three years to Member States whose own response capacities are overwhelmed by urgent and exceptional circumstances.
European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "I strongly welcome the agreement of Member States who share our urgency to get emergency support where it's needed, such as in Greece, as soon as possible. I now look forward to the European Parliament backing our proposal for an amending budget line, so that we can swiftly start providing funds in close cooperation with Member States, to key partners that can channel support to refugees in need."
The Council is expected to give its formal approval of the proposal next Tuesday. The Commission just proposed to the European Parliament and to the Council, as the budgetary authorities, an amending budget for 2016 to create the necessary budget line for the instrument.
As outlined in the Commission's proposal of 2 March, the emergency assistance in Member States would be provided in close coordination and consultation with the Member States and organisations such as UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and international organisations, and include the provision of basic necessities such as food, shelter and medicine to the large numbers of children, women and men currently arriving in EU countries.
The Commission already announced on 10 February its intention to develop the EU's capacity to provide humanitarian assistance internally and the European Council conclusions of 19 February supported this intention. Building on the experience of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, humanitarian assistance would be directed at covering the great humanitarian needs of refugees and migrants within EU Member States.
In response to the refugee crisis within the EU, so far a number of other instruments, such as the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), the Internal Security Fund (ISF) or the European Fund for the Most Deprived (FEAD) have already been providing significant financial resources for assistance within Europe. These instruments have proven their use, but they were not designed to address large humanitarian-scale needs.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been used for mobilising material support such as shelter, hygiene material and medical supplies as well as expertise to support Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia in coping with the increased numbers of arrival. This solidarity mechanism, however, was designed for situations where one Member State is in need – it does not provide funding and relies on voluntary offers from Member States whose own support capacities may be overstretched at this time.
The Proposal for emergency support therefore aims at filling a gap - to have a more appropriate instrument available at Union level for addressing humanitarian needs within the territory of the EU.