Modernising the EU’s humanitarian action is a necessity and an emergency

By Jennifer Richard

The world, particularly vulnerable countries in the developing world, are facing various challenges and difficulties, such as climate change and natural disasters, conflicts, food insecurity or limited access to water. In 2021, 238 million people were in need of assistance. Girls and women are the hardest hit in these situations, with a challenges relating to access to schools and education, hunger and gender-based violence.

Vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic that has struck globally over the past two years. For example, international organisations who are important actors in the provision of humanitarian aid have been constrained by logistical obstacles as a cause of the pandemic.

Renew Europe welcomes the advancement of a Plenary vote on the report on new orientations for the EU’s humanitarian action. Renew Europe is — now more than ever — convinced that the EU Member states must address the dramatic changes within the global humanitarian landscape. Solutions and actions must be found.

The report is a response to the communication recently published by the European Commission — a communication on: « The EU’s humanitarian action: new challenges, same principles ». The position of the Renew Europe group on this issue is clear. Firstly, we welcome the Commission’s communication and call for swift implementation its proposals. We have to modernise our humanitarian aid system to increase its efficiency.

Our group has deep concerns about the funding gap between humanitarian needs and available resources. The EU must tackle this gap as soon as possible. Humanitarian aid is about emergencies, we cannot lose time. Filling the funding gap will require greater collaboration between the EU and the private sector, especially through blending. It will also require the EU to engage more strategically with third countries, such as the UK and emerging donors, who are key players in the humanitarian system.

Renew Europe strongly believes that the EU’s humanitarian action has to tackle the root causes of humanitarian need. This will require a greater focus on fragility and using Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for action. It will also involve adopting a more robust nexus approach in the EU’s external action — development, peace and humanitarian interventions can be reinforcing if properly coordinated.

Finally, Renew Europe calls for the promotion of gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and LGBTQIA+ rights in the EU’s humanitarian assistance.

Barry Andrews MEP who was the Renew Europe shadow rapporteur on this report declared:

“I am proud to say that Renew Europe had a significant impact on this text. When we come out the other side of this pandemic, we will enter another period of reflection about our humanitarian system. Over the past 15 years, humanitarian crises have led to significant reforms, as was the case with the Ebola crisis and the consequences of the war in Syria, which led to the Grand Bargain. This is, of course, a good thing. But there is a trend, and that is that the reforms we institute are retrospective — they are designed for the last crisis, not the next. Of course, humanitarian needs are to some degree unpredictable. But we also know that climate change will be a significant driver of needs in years to come, and that effective development cooperation can address the root causes of these needs. Over the next ten years, the world will change dramatically and the humanitarian landscape will adapt accordingly. I sincerely hope that this report will send a strong message to the European Commission that we need to design our system with foresight and strategy, rather than hindsight”.

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