Development Committee MEPs want EU humanitarian action fit for purpose to respond to the new challenges of climate change, protracted crises and to protect marginalised groups.

On Tuesday, MEPs in the Development Committee adopted a report on new orientations for the EU’s humanitarian action. The report is Parliament’s response to a European Commission communication published in March 2021 on the same subject, and intends to inform Parliament’s contribution to the first ever EU Humanitarian Forum, scheduled for January 2022.

Timely, predictable and flexible funding

In the text agreed at committee level, MEPs demand that the Commission provide a robust annual budget for EU humanitarian aid – one that would guarantee timely, predictable and flexible funding for humanitarian aid from the start of each financial year both for protracted crises and for responding to new ones.                                                      Welcoming the Commission’s communication, the report says the EU should advocate for greater international responsibility-sharing and an increase in global humanitarian funding. MEPs urge EU member states to lead by example and contribute a fixed share of their gross national incomes to humanitarian aid.

Climate crisis

They also highlight the importance of making climate change and environmental crises a central part of any future EU humanitarian action strategy. Working with local communities and indigenous populations will be crucial in supporting vulnerable populations to build up their climate resilience. The Commission should assess, according to the report, the role of gender in humanitarian crises, given that women and girls are often disproportionately affected in conflict and crisis situations.                                                                        MEPs also welcome the concrete achievements of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, introduced to overcome logistical obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Norbert Neuser (S&D, DE), rapporteur, said: “We need overarching strategic priorities and policy recommendations to address the structural problems of humanitarian crises today. These are often caused by acts of war and violence, with people becoming pawns of political interests. This makes it all the more important to protect the integrity of the four fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. This way, we can assert the right of all people in need in crisis areas worldwide to have secure access to humanitarian aid. In this context, I would like to highlight again the performance of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, which will continue to be an important tool in the future in order to transport aid workers or materials to people in need.”                                                The report was adopted by 20 votes in favour, 2 against and 2 abstentions.