The principles of our humanitarian work are impartiality, independence, neutrality, and humanity. Strictly adhering to them allows us to do our work where others have no access.
Commissioner Christos Stylianides
About 100 citizens, among them many university students and active members of emergency assistance organisations such as the fire brigade and the water rescue service, attended a Citizens’ Dialogue with Commissioner Stylianides on 4 April at the Johannes-Kepler-University in Linz, Upper Austria.
For an hour and a half citizens engaged in a lively debate with the Commissioner that was centred on civil protection and humanitarian aid, but also touched upon issues such as the upcoming EP elections.
The debate was moderated by Gernot HÖRMANN, a well-known TV and radio journalist from the region.
Commissioner Stylianides launched the Citizens’ Dialogue by briefly introducing himself and his tasks at the European Commission. He stressed that he sees it as part of his duties to serve as a bridge between EU citizens and the European institutions. “The bureaucratic language we use is sometimes quite an obstacle.”
He underlined the importance of the upcoming European elections, pointing out that with our vote, we can support the European project. “And we can decide in which direction that project will develop.”
He also pointed to the key role of education in preventing humanitarian disasters. It gives hope and has a transformative impact on people’s lives, both in the short and long-term.
He reported that the EU is allocating 10% of the European humanitarian budget to education in emergencies, ten times more than was allocated in 2015.
Christos Stylianides spoke about the minimum cost per EU citizen for humanitarian aid, “spending four euros per citizen per year, the EU and its Member States are the biggest donor of humanitarian aid in the world.”
He underscored that the importance of the principles the EU’s humanitarian work is based on impartiality, independence, neutrality, and humanity. “Strictly adhering to them allows us to do our work where others have no access.”
The Commissioner also informed citizens about the upgrade of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, “rescEU”, at the service of every country, offering a safety net for exceptional circumstances, when national capacities are overwhelmed.
When asked by a citizen about the current challenges in humanitarian aid and civil protection, he pointed to Africa, where there are ethnic conflicts inside several countries, and real poverty. Governments are not always very efficient, and corruption is common. Furthermore, a demographic explosion is taking place.
The EU is very much affected by these developments, due to geographical proximity and migrant flows. Once again, Commissioner Stylianides underlined the importance of education.
In civil protection, the focus is on prevention and preparedness, especially for fires, floods, and epidemics.