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European Commission launches emergency aid to Romania

(B2 Archive) Faced with the events in Romania, in Timisoara, in Iasi, in Bucharest, the European Commission has launched emergency aid to help those injured by the “revolution”

  • Gérard Molinier, head of DG8 division responsible for emergency aid, at the Commission of the European Communities, explains how this aid was triggered, on what criteria, who is it intended for, the rate of payment of the aid .

How is European emergency aid triggered?

We have a special structure within the Commission, a real crisis unit, responsible for monitoring developments in disaster situations and taking any decisions that the circumstances require. On the basis of the information sent to us by our usual partners - non-governmental organizations or the Red Cross -, we take emergency measures which are cash aid, financial means that we make available to these partners to obtain essential goods, necessary in urgent situations (medicines, blankets, tents, sending medical teams, airlifts, etc.).

What is your budget ?

We have an annual budget of around 60 million ECU (or 0,13%) for both the ACP countries and third countries. This amount is only an incentive: in the event of a serious crisis, we can have larger budgets. Community emergency aid comes from different chapters of the community budget or within the framework of the Lomé conventions, but we intervene worldwide.

Is releasing funds slow?

No, because decisions are taken extremely quickly, thanks to a system of authorizations which exists at Commission level. This delegates to a European Commissioner the responsibility for taking any decision up to amounts of 500.000 ECU. For decisions of a higher amount, we then adopt ad hoc procedures. For example, for Romania, as soon as the partner organizations sent us their quantified requests, we took a first set of measures. On December 22, a first tranche of one million ECU was released for the shipment, by plane and truck, of medicines, medical equipment and rescue teams. A new tranche of aid of 5,5 million ECU was decided the day before yesterday (Sunday December 24 at 17 p.m.). 2,4 million ECU entrusted to Caritas in Europe will be used to ship food aid by truck, a veritable rolling crane of 60 trucks per month, for 3 months. The second medical component (medications, medical equipment, medical-surgical teams, etc.) is entrusted to Médecins sans frontières (1,5 million ECU), Médecins du Monde (500.000 ECU), and the German and Italian Red Cross (600.000 ECU). A reserve of 500.000 ECU remains available for the coming days.

How do you select your partners?

Partner organizations are selected according to two criteria: local needs, and partners who have a specific program to implement and who thus form a network of organizations that we know well. We simply ask them to make it known that their interventions are financed by the Community. Only for various reasons, sometimes urgency or other reasons, Community funding is not known to the general public, ... we have to say things as they are.

Will other aid be triggered?

These two aids from the EEC already represent a quite considerable amount. In such a dramatic situation, excess aid or inappropriate aid which could be harmful must be avoided. We must give the right help, where it is needed... We must therefore coordinate this operation, see what other donors are sending and make a more precise assessment of needs before reviewing the situation in a few days.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).