Pursuant to Article 9 of Humanitarian Aid Regulation ("HAR"), humanitarian aid actions financed from the European Union budget may, where necessary, be implemented by a Specialised Agency of a Member State ("MSSA"). The MSSAs are national public law bodies or bodies governed by private law, set up in a Member State of the EU, with a public-service mission in the area of humanitarian aid.
The HAR provides guidance on the common criteria that ECHO's potential partners must comply with in order to implement humanitarian actions with Union funding. They must be entities set up in a Member State and specialised in the field of humanitarian aid and they must have legal personality in order to have the authority to undertake legal obligations and to sign contracts.
Although the HAR does not provide a definition of MSSAs, Article 58(1) of the Financial regulation provides for the possibility to implement the EU budget through "public law bodies /or/ bodies governed by private law with a public service mission to the extent that they provide adequate financial guarantees."
In addition, the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, which was signed by the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council on 18 December 2007, has reaffirmed EU's commitment to the fundamental humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Accordingly, ECHO only provides funding for humanitarian aid actions to organisations which commit to respect these fundamental principles.
Based on the above, entities wishing to be recognised as an MSSA by ECHO must comply with the following criteria:
An MSSA should be an entity established in a Member State of the EU, either as:
An MSSA must have sufficient legal personality so as to have the authority to undertake legal obligations, sign contracts, benefit from external funding and justify its costs.
Applicant MSSAs must be active in the field of humanitarian aid; their mandate shall relate to the objectives and general principles of humanitarian aid, as outlined in Article 2 of the HAR, and they shall have at least three years of proven relevant experience in the field of humanitarian aid. Applicant MSSA must also commit to respect the fundamental humanitarian principles:
Applicant MSSAs that are private law bodies must provide adequate financial guarantees. Such financial guarantees will notably be deemed to exist where public authorities act as guarantor.
Applicant qualifying as a Contracting Authority under EU Public Procurement Directives will only have to inform ECHO that it is bound by EU procurement rules.
Where it is not the case, the applicant will be required, to provide documentation detailing its procurement procedures. These procurement procedures have to comply with the Principles and Procedures applicable to procurement contracts awarded within the framework of humanitarian aid actions financed by the European Union .
To obtain recognition as an MSSA by ECHO, entities complying with the above criteria, need to submit an Application form. It is to be accompanied by supporting documentation (see Application form) through which the applicant demonstrates compliance with the above criteria. Non-submission of the required supporting documents may result in the rejection of the application.
The Application form and the supporting documents must be returned to ECHO to the following e-mail address: ECHO-FINANCE-LEGAL-AFFAIRS@ec.europa.eu.
The application will be considered formally received when the signed Application form, together with all the required supporting documents, is registered by ECHO. This will be communicated to the applicant.
ECHO will then assess the application. It will formally inform the applicant in writing of the outcome of the application.
During the course of the assessment, if needed, ECHO will request specific documents and additional information from the applicant or the national authorities of the applicant's Member State of establishment and carry out verification missions at the headquarters of the applicant. Failure to provide ECHO with the requested information or documentation may be considered by ECHO as a renunciation of the application and the assessment process will be discontinued and closed. In such a case, the applicant will be informed formally and in writing thereof.
If the outcome of the assessment is successful, the applicant will be informed formally and in writing thereof and the applicant will be recognised as an MSSA by ECHO. As MSSAs do not sign a Framework Partnership Agreement with ECHO, the MSSA in question will be asked to acknowledge its acceptance of the relevant terms and conditions (contractual template) to be used in the event where the MSSA would request and be awarded Union funding.