Myths and facts about EU budget and external cooperation
Currently, when EU institutions are working on the new financial framework 2014-2020, let's take a look how the EU budget makes Europe count in the world.
Humaniarian Aid and crisis response
Humanitarian aid and civil protection assistance are the first response by the European Union to crises and disasters. The relevance of EU action in this area, managed by the Commission, is underscored by the rising frequency, intensity and complexity of humanitarian crises and natural and man-made disasters around the world. On a global scale, the number of natural disasters has increased five-fold between 1979 and 2010. Only in 2010, there were 950 disasters around the world (of which - five mega-disasters), afflicting hundreds of millions of people. Europe is at risk as well: floods and forest fires, earthquakes and extreme weather are rising in frequency. In 2010, the economic cost of humanitarian crises was estimated at approximately €100 billion. The problem is likely to get worse in the future: it is expected that by 2015 the number of people affected by climatic disasters will grow by 375 million per year. When the European Union responds together to these growing challenges with humanitarian and civil protection support, our actions and investment are more efficient, more effective, and more relevant than if Member States would struggle separately to cope with the effects of crises in Europe and abroad.
The EU is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide, delivering around 50% of official humanitarian aid. The Commission is the world's second-largest humanitarian aid donor. Through its sheer size, the EU humanitarian aid budget effectively maximises the value of otherwise dispersed efforts, while promoting a sound division of labour. One example of this value are the so-called "forgotten crises" - disasters or conflicts which are not in the headlines, but whose victims require international assistance. For instance, the European Commission was instrumental in focusing international attention on the crisis in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), suffering from chronically poor rains, political instability, high food prices and epidemics that aggravate already fragile communities but attract limited attention abroad.
To respond effectively to increasingly complex crisis like in Haiti, Japan and Libya is often beyond the capacity of each Member State - or comes at an exorbitant price. The European Union, on the other hand, through its common resources and the available national capabilities, has sufficient means, experience and expertise to respond efficiently and in a cost-effective way. One example is the Union’s assistance to Japan following the triple disaster of March 2011, when the Civil Protection Mechanism coordinated the provision and delivery of assistance (from blankets through water to radiation meters), and the Commission supplemented this civil protection support, provided by Member States, with humanitarian aid to the evacuees. Another example is Libya: within the first week of civil unrest, the Commission identified, facilitated and co-financed transport assets for the immediate evacuation of 5.800 EU citizens. The operation was executed through aeroplanes and ships provided by the Member States, and was coordinated and partially co-financed by the European Commission. In the same week, it dispatched humanitarian teams to the Egyptian and Tunisian borders, where thousands of people were stranded while attempting to flee the violence across the Libyan borders. The Commission was the first international humanitarian donor with continuous presence inside Libya. Until the arrival of the United Nations on 9 April, EU humanitarian experts in Benghazi coordinated the international aid in eastern Libya.