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Commissioner Georgieva on crisis response: “Yes I Do”

(BRUSSELS2) Commissioner Kristilina Georgieva passed her parliamentary exam yesterday with flying colors. There was no need to wait until the end of the hearing or the coordinators' meeting to find out. Already, in the middle of the hearing, the main coordinators were talking together, all smiles. And on several occasions, loud applause punctuated his responses. Less than one
hour before the end of the hearing, the British Cashman (S&D) gave the knighthood, publicly summarizing the general feeling: “ I am very impressed by your answers, your commitment, your knowledge of the files, your intellectual honesty, Madam. I have no further questions. I think we can move on to confirmation ". Frenchwoman Eva Joly (Greens), who chairs the hearing, continues: “ I think there is consensus ».

Yes sir ! The "Yes Sir » by Georgieva frank — vibrant and direct in response to the questioning of the British Tory, Nirj Deva — will you be « the voice of the voiceless? “, if necessary by fighting within the college of commissioners — carried. By using the favorite expression of the American military, Georgieva has certainly shown both her voluntarism, her European ambition and her sense of formula. Three things that always please the European Parliament.

French I will learn it. The hearing ends. The time has come for the conclusion, always a delicate moment. Georgieva has a little moment of emotion, quite political in fact. “ Today is my mother's 89th birthday. I should have been by his side today. But I am among you. My mother always believed in Europe; she experienced war; she experienced the division of Europe. She wanted me to learn French. » And to add in French which must date from the day before, but very charming"If I am confirmed, I will make the effort to learn French ". This triggers a round of applause. Needless to say, if she were in college, her confirmation letter would read “with the congratulations of the jury".

A bis Ashton. At the exit, all the participants in the hearing rush to greet the commissioner as they leave. It's pretty classic. But there, a current clearly passed. The deputies found “their” commissioner. « We have a contact summarizes the French Michele Pfeiffer (EPP / UMP). A steward who is definitely in the Top 5 of the best stewards. As Luxembourger Charles Goerens (PPE) commented gentilely upon leaving the hemicycle: « Me Ashton would be well advised to leave him the field free ».

Crisis response: faster, more united, more European

“My first priority is Haiti.” The Commissioner also confirmed this in her press conference, it is “ its number 1 priority: first ensure emergency, then reconstruction ". " We must act decisively to continue delivering immediate relief, especially shelter, food and care. The challenge is immense. We must provide shelter for approximately 1 million Haitians, medical and post-operative care for tens of thousands of people. she explained during her introductory presentation.
Next, " we must start the work of long-term reconstruction and development. »

“Learn lessons”. More generally, Georgieva intends to learn the first lessons of the European response to Haiti.  “What can we do to have a faster, more united and more visible Europe in the next disaster? » she asked herself. Georgieva proposes three directions of action.
1° The preposition of stocks (we had already seen this during the Tsunami crisis, it is essential);
2° Communication: “ you have to think as much about communication as about action because what people believe is what they see »;
3 ° " We can better coordinate the European reaction, I don't know why it hasn't been done, but we have to show that Europe is not 27 + 1"

“EU Fast, a good idea”. Do EU Fast, Have an EU Rapid Response Capacity in the event of a disaster? “ Yes for me it goes without saying she replied. " La The question is not so much whether to do it. I am convinced of it », referring in particular to Michel Barnier's report on EuAid. " But why hasn't it worked in the past? What blocked it? And how we can move forward into the future. ". " There is no point in relaunching the project if it results in another failure » she told me after the audition. The decisive moment could come quickly since President Van Rompuy has decided to put this subject on the agenda of the informal Council on February 11. "We are going to have an intensive discussion in the next few days."

Renew approaches. Georgieva spoke out in favor of a diversity of approach. Yes " to a catalog of the availabilities of the Member States (like the catalog of civilian capacities in terms of PeSDC), it is a good approach, even more so with the current situation, where the economic crisis requires having limited resources ». Yes to continuing the experimental “forest fires” project. But we must also be creative in instruments she commented. " At the World Bank, for example, we had thought about natural catastrophe insurance. Haiti had this insurance, paid for by Canada. And Haiti will receive 8 million euros ».

Share the burden. « I'm all for burden sharing. she explained. " I have a role to play in advocating for more active participation by Member States, particularly in the new Member States. Even if our financial conditions are difficult, we are committed. Now I'm not really aware of exactly how the burden sharing is going, and I have to find out what can be done at the community level in the future. she also acknowledged.


Humanitarian action: preserving access routes to victims, denouncing abuses

To be neutral. It is the alpha & omega of humanitarian action for the commissioner, who has thus set the limits of her power. “ We must be neutral. We have one objective: to deliver humanitarian aid (…) and access victims. » So no political expression on certain subjects which could harm that. “ Now if it comes to saving women and children — she added —, I will speak. If it's necessary, to get attention, then yes, I would. Yes I do! ».

“Yes I Do”. « I will advocate for respect for international humanitarian law and I will speak out when aid workers are killed, prisoners are mistreated, rape is used as a weapon and innocent lives are destroyed. ».

Open access to Gaza. Asked several times, the Commissioner set her course of action: “ The most important thing for us is to plead
for access to the region. We need to know why we don't have access. If the reason is military property: we must have either a negative list or a positive list. But what is important: we must act together and speak with one voice. We must provide maximum support for humanitarian workers.

A body of European volunteers “from 2011”. Article 214 of the Treaty (*) provides for the establishment of a humanitarian corps of European volunteers. The commissioner intends to work for this body to be created as early as 2011. While recognizing that: “ It's very optimistic, I agree. (…) But, in 2011, there is a symbol, it is the year of volunteering. And we have a Treaty mandate. Two questions need to be defined, according to her: the budget and motivation of this service. On the budget, it would be unfair to finance it with the humanitarian aid budget which would decrease as a result, so we have to find funds to make it work. Then, you have to know what this body of volunteers will be used for. We could take an example from Engineers Without Borders. (…) The term that counts in this project is “volunteers”: it is not automatically all the countries, it is not a corps of volunteers appointed automatically. »

(*) «
5. In order to establish a framework for joint contributions by young Europeans to the Union's humanitarian aid actions, a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps is created. The European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish its status and the arrangements for its operation.

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).

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