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Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)

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Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)

 

SUMMARY OF:

Article 214 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THESE TREATY ARTICLES?

  • Article 214 provides the main legal basis for European Union (EU) humanitarian aid. It authorises the EU to provide assistance, relief and protection to victims of natural or man-made disasters for people in non-EU countries.
  • Article 196 gives the EU competence to support and complement the actions of EU countries in the field of civil protection.

KEY POINTS

  • The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) of the European Commission is responsible for the delivery of aid to the victims of crises and natural or man-made disasters.
  • ECHO also manages the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
  • Most recently, in 2016, ECHO became responsible for managing emergency support within the EU.

Humanitarian aid

Based on international principles enshrined in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, the EU provides needs-based humanitarian assistance. Its focus is on the most vulnerable victims.

ECHO funds humanitarian aid on the basis of the 1996 Humanitarian Aid Regulation, which allows for financing of operations outside the EU to provide assistance, relief and protection to people affected by natural or man-made disasters and similar emergencies. ECHO intervenes in partnership with organisations such as non-governmental organisations; the funds, programmes and specialised agencies of the United Nations; the Red Cross and Red Crescent and EU countries’ specialised agencies.

Emergency support within the EU

  • Regulation (EU) 2016/369 allows the EU to provide emergency support to EU countries affected by exceptionally serious man-made or natural disasters giving rise to severe wide-ranging humanitarian consequences, such as earthquakes, floods and industrial accidents. It is to be brought into play only when other instruments prove insufficient and is designed to support and complement the actions of the affected EU country/countries.

Civil protection

  • ECHO is also active in the event of natural or man-made disasters both inside and outside the EU through the EU’s civil protection mechanism which seeks to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the EU and EU countries in the field of civil protection. Certain non-EU countries can also participate under specific conditions.
  • Its main objective is to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing, preparing for and responding to natural and man-made disasters of all kinds within and outside the EU.
  • The mechanism has a 24/7 hub, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, which coordinates operations, as well as an Emergency Response Capacity (‘voluntary pool’) which brings together a range of relief teams, experts and equipment that are kept on standby in the EU countries in which they are based.
  • Although its focus is on protecting people, it also covers the environment and property, including natural heritage.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

MAIN DOCUMENT

Article 214 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 143)

Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 135-136)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 of 20 June 1996 concerning humanitarian aid (OJ L 163, 2.7.1996, pp. 1–6)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, pp. 924–947)

Council Regulation (EU) 2016/369 of 15 March 2016 on the provision of emergency support within the Union (OJ L 70, 16.3.2016, pp. 1–6)

last update 22.09.2016

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