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Framework Partnership Agreement with humanitarian organisations (2008-2012)
This new Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) with humanitarian organisations is in force from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012. Like the previous FPAs, it establishes the role, rights and obligations of partners and the legal provisions which apply to humanitarian aid operations.
Framework Partnership Agreement with humanitarian organisations.
The Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid of the European Commission (DG ECHO) does not intervene directly in the field; its assistance is distributed and implemented by its partners. As a result, Framework Partnership Agreements (FPAs) form the basis of its work. Since its creation in 1992 ECHO has always made use of FPAs and two types are currently in force: a framework agreement with international organisations and a framework agreement with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). There is also a Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement between the European Community and the United Nations (FAFA) governing ECHO-financed humanitarian aid operations carried out by UN humanitarian services.
This new FPA with NGOs is in force from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012 and it may be renewed tacitly by the Commission for a maximum of one year. It is the fourth FPA in the history of DG ECHO, following the FPAs adopted in 1993, 1998 and 2003, and aims to simplify and to increase flexibility of the contractual instruments with the partners, as well as to improve the implementation of humanitarian aid using a result-oriented approach. With this in mind, the two key objectives of "continuity" and "high-quality partnership" have been taken from the previous FPA.
The humanitarian aid of the European Union (EU) is provided through programmes and projects supported by the European Community, which can finance the purchase and delivery of all products, materials and services necessary for their implementation in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96, the legal basis for DG ECHO and FPAs.
The FPA defines the common principles governing the partnership between ECHO and NGOs and establishes rules and procedures applicable to humanitarian operations carried out in partnership. It also defines the criteria for the selection of partners and aims to establish long‑term cooperation between ECHO and NGOs in order to ensure quick, effective and efficient aid. The signing of a partnership agreement is, in principle, the precondition for making financial grants in support of specific humanitarian operations, but the FPA is not a financing agreement as such.
The principal aims of the FPA are:
- to optimise the results and implementation of humanitarian aid operations, with principles of economy and efficiency in addition to well-defined objectives and performance indicators;
- to simplify procedures and clarify rules;
- to promote the idea of high-quality partnership through carefully chosen partners and a commitment to improvement.
The quality of the partnership must be manifested when carrying out the humanitarian project. This quality must be based on transparency and accountability towards the parties concerned, formulation of strategies seeking efficiency of the humanitarian response, access to fair working conditions for humanitarian workers and the promotion of a culture of learning linked to best practice. Information and communication must flow between partners.
Selection and evaluation of partners
All NGOs that adhere to ECHO’s values, principles and objectives are eligible partners after verification that they meet predetermined criteria. The eligibility criteria are:
- to be an autonomous non-profit organisation with its head office in a Member State. The Commission will verify the organisation’s act of incorporation and status with national authorities;
- to provide audited financial statements for the two previous financial years. The Commission will verify annual activity reports for the two last years certifying a minimum of three years of operational experience in the field;
- to demonstrate sufficient and verifiable administrative capacity, both by the organisation chart and the list of management board members;
- to be able to certify the moral integrity of the organisation and its management board;
- to have endorsed a voluntary code of conduct or charter stipulating adhesion to the principles of impartiality, independence and neutrality in delivering humanitarian assistance.
After eligibility, aptitude is also evaluated. Technical and logistical capacities, administrative and financial management capacities, experience, previous results, implementation capacity and impartiality will be taken into consideration for selection and verified with national authorities on-site.
Monitoring and control
In order to control NGO activities in a more effective way, two control mechanisms have been set out in the new FPA:
- mechanism "A" (A for action) for monitoring of the implementation of actions, in‑depth checks of the final report and ex post audits of actions;
- mechanism "P" (P for prior evaluation and for internal procedures), based on ex ante evaluation of internal control procedures, risk management and the award of contracts by the NGOs, as well as ex post audits of the implementation of their rules and procedures.
The Commission periodically assesses the NGOs which are party to FPAs using the following two-stage procedure:
- the first stage, which is carried out annually and is compulsory for all NGOs, aims to verify the eligibility and aptitude criteria. In this context, the Commission is to receive a copy of the annual accounts, an external audit report and a copy of the annual activity report for the previous financial year, as well as any additional documentation considered relevant;
- the second stage consists of an in-depth evaluation, which is to be performed at least once every three years.
Suspension or termination of the partnership agreement
Following the annual evaluation, the Commission can either confirm its partnership with the NGO or suspend the FPA or terminate it by giving prior notice. In the event of non-compliance with the criteria, the Commission may suspend the partnership with 45 days’ written notice. In the event of suspension, the NGO is no longer eligible for new financing during the suspension period but it may see its active status restored if it can show that it once again meets the aptitude criteria. Where there are grounds for suspecting an infringement of the contractual obligations by the NGO, the Commission may suspend the FPA with immediate effect.
After one year’s suspension, the partnership agreement will be terminated. Other cases of termination result from non-compliance with the eligibility requirements set out above, breach of the values, principles or objectives of FPAs and cases of substantial irregularity which cause or may cause loss to the Community budget. Here too, 45 days’ written notice must be given.
Actions eligible for Community financing
Humanitarian assistance involves supplying food, water and sanitation, shelter and health services, short-term rehabilitation, reconstruction work, protection of victims of conflict, and disaster-preparedness operations.
These operations must conform to the fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence *. They must be focused on the beneficiaries, be based on the needs of the population in distress and use best practice in the humanitarian field. To this end, NGOs must:
- allocate funds according to need;
- foster participation of the beneficiaries;
- base their operations on local capacity while respecting culture, structure and tradition;
- establish a link between emergency assistance, rehabilitation and development;
- cooperate to support affected communities’ capacity to respond to future humanitarian crises.
The operations may be launched on the initiative of the Commission or the NGO; they may be financed wholly or in part by the European Community.
- To find out more, see the website of DG Humanitarian aid and Civil protection (ECHO)