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“EU humanitarian aid is not a crisis management tool”


13 Apr 2012


Global Europe

Caritas calls in the Council of the EU for consistency on the implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid: “EU humanitarian aid is not a crisis management tool”

Brussels, 13 April 2012

Caritas Europa has been invited to the Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) of the European Council as an expert organisation to present its report on Humanitarian principles.

Anne Street, Senior Humanitarian Advisor from CAFOD, and Jann Sjursen, Secretary General of Caritas Denmark, presented the main findings and recommendations of the report ‘Bridging the Gap report between Policy and Practice on the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid’. SG Sjursen thanked the Danish Presidency for the opportunity and emphasized the importance of the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid as a comprehensive, forward-looking policy framework, essential for humanitarian actors to build trust and acceptance of assistance.

In her presentation, Ms Street insisted that solid implementation of the Consensus and its’ Action Plan (2008-2013), by the 27 EU Member States, is essential if the EU aspires to keep delivering coherent and effective humanitarian aid. In doing so, Ms Street advised Member States to ensure that their humanitarian policies and practices are guided by the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid and that national humanitarian strategies and policies include reference to the Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.

‘So we ask that Member States work to ensure that humanitarian aid does not become a crisis management tool whereby the lines between military operations and humanitarian aid become blurred, - something which Article 15 of the Consensus clearly articulates, in noting “ EU humanitarian aid is not a crisis management tool”. said Anne Street.

Ms. Street suggested Member States to establish mechanisms at national level for independent review of commitments under the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, including assessment of adherence across relevant ministries. As for the Action Plan and its monitoring, Ms. Street suggested the rationalization of indicators and to prioritize those aspects that may have the biggest impact for crisis affected people.

During the debate, some Member States discussed the revision of the action plan of the Consensus and the new Action Plan and they suggested deepening and emphasizing the Division of Labour and complementarity among them and ECHO. Other Member States representatives welcomed Caritas recommendations on the reinforcement of a peer review mechanism that may enhance good practices among them.

To ensure Humanitarian Aid reaches needy people in complex emergencies, Caritas Europa is calling on the European Commission and EU member states, to take action on these fronts:

 Demonstrate a greater political will and commitment to consistently put the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid into practice.

 Commit to a common agreement not to use humanitarian aid as a crisis management tool.

 Ensure that the mandate of ECHO remains distinct from other Commission services and EU institutions.

 Make further progress with the development of national policies and strategies that strongly reference the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, and provide greater transparency at national level, to enable national parliaments and civil society organizations to monitor adherence to the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid more closely.

 Increase the visibility of Member States commitments to the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid by referencing it in other fora particularly in UN humanitarian agencies.

Caritas Europa also asserts that regular monitoring should be strengthened at all levels and, in support of this, calls for an evaluation with public disclosure of the results and impact of the EU Consensus that would include a broad consultation of different stakeholders.

Read the full Report here.


Isabel Fernandez Sarabia

Policy and Advocacy Officer

Notes to Editors:

A PDF of the ‘Report on Bridging the Gap report between Policy and Practice on the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid is available at:

Full text of remarks by Anne Street, presented to the COHAFA is available here:

For more information and photos, visit our website:


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