Public hearing on “The Future of the EU’s Humanitarian Aid”

 Brussels – Joszef Antall, Room JAN 6Q2

Wednesday 27 February 2019, 14.30 – 16.30


Concept note

As the current European Parliament VII legislature comes to an end, this public hearing aims to look back at the most important developments in humanitarian aid in the past five years and provide a long-term perspective on the future of the EU’s humanitarian aid, within a global context.

Humanitarian crises have increased in number, complexity and severity over the last decade, leading to growing needs. More than 134 million people across the world are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The UN’s humanitarian appeal for the last year amounted to USD 25.4 billion, with only 38.5 % of it funded. International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is often violated; humanitarian actors often face access restrictions while their security has also dramatically decreased. According to the 2018 Aid Worker Security report, close to 300 aid workers are affected by serious violence every year. With the multiplication of protracted and prolonged humanitarian situations, funding needs are on the rise and the overall humanitarian system is severely tested. Precisely in relation to funding needs, it should be noted that we are now at a crucial period for humanitarian aid, in that Member States are negotiating and deciding on the volume of the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2021-2027. The Commission proposal foresees a total of EUR 11 billion for humanitarian aid in this period. The Parliament has been clear in noting that this amount must not be reduced in the negotiations, as it is the minimum needed to meet the growing demands resulting from crises around the world.

To face up to the growing challenges, the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) took place in Istanbul in May 2016. One of the most tangible outcomes of the summit was the signature of the ‘Grand Bargain’ to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the global humanitarian aid system. Now signed by 59 parties – donors, NGOs, UN agencies, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) / International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – the Grand Bargain outlines 51 mutual commitments across ten thematic work streams. The second annual independent report, published in June 2018, indicates important progress notably in the  work-streams related to cash programming, participation and multi-year planning and financing. However, progress remains uneven among the other work-streams and the independent report points to the need to prioritise and to rationalise the work-streams structure. The independent report further recommends to lighten the bureaucratic burden, to define a practical and consistent methodology to assess progress and to strengthen political leadership.

This public hearing will serve as forum for discussions concerning progress in implementing the commitments stemming from the WHS and the Grand Bargain, and touch upon key challenges for the EU’s and global humanitarian aid, including improving effectiveness and transparency, strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus and implementing the ‘localisation’ agenda.

With the multiplication of protracted humanitarian crises and prolonged forced displacement, the need for the implementation of the humanitarian-development nexus appears more crucial than ever. However, as shown by the recent comprehensive evaluation of the EU’s humanitarian aid (2012-2016), evidence of successful complementary approaches and handovers from DG ECHO to DG DEVCO and other development actors remains limited. Challenges to such cooperation are posed by differences between humanitarian and development donors in terms of objectives, mandate, programming cycle, basic principles, and approaches. In May 2017, the Council of the EU adopted Conclusions on Operationalising the Humanitarian-Development Nexus calling on the Commission and Member States to implement this approach in six pilot countries (Iraq, Chad, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda). In these countries, humanitarian and development actors are encouraged to have multi-year planning and programming cycles, joint risk and vulnerability analyses, joined-up planning, and coordinated programmatic approaches based on a better understanding of the context of the country of implementation.

While also identified as one of the priorities in the ‘Grand Bargain’, the localisation agenda also remains to be fully implemented. According to the IFRC, the overall objective of localisation is improved humanitarian response through local actors who play a crucial role in ensuring early response and access, acceptance and cost effectiveness.

With participants coming from the European Commission, UN OCHA, ICRC/IFRC and the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), this public hearing on the future of the EU’s humanitarian aid will provide the opportunity to discuss among Members and with different stakeholders the progress made towards addressing key humanitarian challenges, and the way forward. The hearing comes at a timely moment as the lessons which can be drawn can serve to inform the future work of the Committee on Development during the European Parliament’s IX legislature.

Further reading

  • Comprehensive evaluation of the European Union humanitarian aid, 2012-2016
  • Delivering on the ambition of the World Humanitarian Summit, AGENDA FOR HUMANITY ANNUAL SYNTHESIS REPORT 2018
  • Grand Bargain annual independent report 2018
  • Recommendations from the Red Cross EU Office and the International Committee of the Red Cross THE EUROPEAN UNION HUMANITARIAN– DEVELOPMENT NEXUS
  • IFRC Policy Brief Localization – what it means and how to achieve it

All available at the DEVE eMeeting page:

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