European Commission

Weekly meeting | 02/03/2016

Faster crisis response within the EU: new Emergency Assistance instrument proposed

As the refugee crisis continues to put pressure on many countries the Commission proposes a faster way to respond to humanitarian crises within the EU.

The decisions adopted today illustrate once more how the College of Commissioners provides quick and effective answers to common challenges and for the benefit of citizens, be it related to the management of the refugee crisis, the fight against climate change or to the facilitation of the daily lives of Europe's citizens.

When Member States' own response capacities are overwhelmed by urgent and exceptional crisis situations, such as a sudden influx of refugees, they should be able to rely on quick emergency EU assistance. But the currently available instruments at EU level are not designed to address humanitarian needs within the territory of the EU. To fil this gap, the Commission has proposed a Council Regulation enabling the provision of emergency support to complement and supplement Member States' humanitarian response inside the EU. This proposal will make €700 million available between 2016-2018 to provide help where it is most needed. The new Emergency Assistance instrument covers assistance and protection aimed at preserving life, alleviating suffering and safeguarding human dignity by providing, for example, basic relief items, shelter, medicine or other types of urgently needed relief. The immediate application of the emergency support will be to direct humanitarian assistance in EU Member States which are experiencing a sudden influx of refugees from third countries. But it is not limited to the current refugee crisis and can be used in other emergencies with wide-ranging humanitarian impact such as nuclear or chemical accidents, terrorists or cyber-attacks and epidemics.

Today, the Commission has also presented an assessment of the implications for the EU of the historic universal, legally binding, global climate deal adopted by 195 countries in December 2015 in Paris. The assessment looks at the next steps in the process and how the Paris Agreement will be implemented in the EU. As President Juncker said in his 2015 State of the Union speech:" There is a Road to Paris; but there is also a Road from Paris. My Commission will work to ensure Europe keeps leading in the fight against climate change. We will practice what we preach". The assessment is accompanied by a proposal for the European Union to sign the Paris Agreement. The Agreement will be open for signatures on 22 April 2016 in New York, and enter into force when at least 55 Parties representing at least 55% of global emissions have ratified.

Besides, and in order to bring more legal clarity for Europe's 16 million international couples, the Commission has adopted proposals to launch an enhanced cooperation to clarify the property rights for international married couples or registered partnerships in cases of divorce or separation.

The College also held an orientation debate on the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. The High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini had been invited by the European Council to submit such a Global Strategy in June 2016. The main objective of today's orientation debate was to help prepare and frame the Commission's contribution to the Global Strategy.

Finally, the Commission strengthened senior management across five departments and decided on the appointment of the Director-General to the Regulatory Scrutiny Board.

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