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Brussels, 8 December 2010

The Mid-Term Review of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid Action Plan

The Consensus

The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid was adopted at the end of 2007 by the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

The Consensus is a comprehensive, forward-looking policy framework, setting out a common vision with concrete principles and commitments to ensure appropriate, principled and effective EU humanitarian action.

The Consensus underscores the need to preserve humanitarian space, in order to ensure access to vulnerable populations and the safety and security of humanitarian personnel. It reaffirms the EU’s commitment to upholding and promoting fundamental humanitarian principles and to advocating for respect of International Law, including International Humanitarian Law. The Consensus also underlines the EU's support for a plurality of implementing partners. It sets out the standards and principles for the use of civil protection resources and military assets in the EU's response to humanitarian crises.

In 2008, the European Commission presented a five-year Action Plan with practical measures the EU aims to undertake in order to implement the Consensus.

The Mid-Term Review assesses overall progress on the Action Plan so far, and updates the priorities. More specifically, it looks at the measures undertaken by the EU (the 27 Member States and the European Commission), to implement the Action Plan. The Review gives suggestions for areas where there is scope for further effort.

The Mid-Term Review consists of two documents - the Communication on 'the mid-term review of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid Action Plan – implementing effective principled EU humanitarian action" and an accompanying Staff Working Paper. The review process has involved consultations with stakeholders and liaison with the European Parliament, through the standing rapporteur on humanitarian aid.

How will the review help?

By assessing how the EU has improved its humanitarian aid approach, the review helps ensure that EU humanitarian action is as appropriate and effective as possible, and fits within the spirit of internationally agreed principles. The review also helps maintain momentum on the European Consensus and encourages its continued implementation by the European Commission and EU Member States. The ultimate goal remains the provision of quality aid to the people who need of our help in communities hit by humanitarian crisis.

Looking back: Implementation of the Action Plan so far

Over the past three years, there has been good overall progress on the implementation of the Action Plan. Through its funding and advocacy, the EU has contributed to the adequate and rapid response to sudden crises. Coordination within the EU has also improved, which has diminished the gaps and overlaps in response to crises. To promote the building of capacities for this response, the EU has continuously engaged with humanitarian partners for crisis response. By working together more closely, the Union has also strengthened its voice and collective impact in the international arena.

These achievements prove the scope of commitment and the substance of EU efforts to engage in effective humanitarian action. However, there remains scope to consolidate collective EU efforts and to strengthen individual donor commitment to tackling key challenges.

Looking Forward: Challenges and Priorities for the future

Solid implementation of the Consensus by the 27 EU Member States and the European Commission is essential if the EU aspires to keep delivering coherent and effective humanitarian aid.

The mid-term review finds that the further implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid requires:

Shared responsibility for success: Meaning that all EU Member States should reiterate their commitment to working together under the Consensus and to disseminating the Consensus cross-government at a national level;

Division of labour: In recognition of the different capacities and traditions of EU Member States and the limited human resources devoted to humanitarian aid in donor organizations, a more explicit sharing out of leadership and task-facilitation is needed;

Regular monitoring of implementation of Consensus commitments;

Proactive strategic dialogue and exchange of practices between EU donors and partners to ensure the link between donations and operational practice.

In addition, priorities for joint EU action need to be précised in several areas, including:

Reinforced advocacy for the protection of humanitarian space, including the promotion of international humanitarian law;

Working with a diverse range of actors (including the military), donors and crisis-affected countries to ensure a strong understanding of the fundamental humanitarian principles and the Consensus; and

Working with development actors on disaster risk reduction and on the transition from emergency response to recovery, including early post-crisis needs assessment.

In pursuing and implementing these important priorities, the EU can further support the intended impact of its humanitarian action.

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