Humanitarian aid

Table of Contents:

Humanitarian aid

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Humanitarian aid


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Humanitarian aid

Humanitarian aid

The European Union is the world’s leading provider of humanitarian aid. This aid, which takes the form of financing, provision of goods or services, or technical assistance, aims to help prepare for and deal urgently with the crises which seriously affect populations outside the Union, whether these be natural disasters, disasters caused by human activity, or structural crises.
The Union’s action is based on the fundamental humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and comprises three instruments: emergency aid, food aid, and aid for refugees and displaced persons. ECHO coordinates this action and cooperates closely with partners who implement aid on the ground, in particular the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.


  • European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid
  • Towards a European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid
  • Instrument for humanitarian aid
  • EU guidelines on the promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law
  • Promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law: Guidelines
  • Partnership with the United Nations: development assistance and humanitarian aid
  • Framework Partnership Agreement with humanitarian organisations (2008-2012)
  • Towards the establishment of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps
  • Strengthening the European disaster response capacity
  • Disaster and crisis response in Non-EU Member Countries
  • Civil Protection Mechanism
  • Financing of civil protection measures (2007-2013)
  • EU response to fragile situations
  • Disaster risk reduction in developing countries
  • Linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD)

Food aid

  • Humanitarian Food Assistance
  • Facility for rapid response to soaring food prices

Human rights

  • Children in EU external action


  • Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)
  • ECHO Annual Report 2009
  • ECHO Annual Report 2008
  • ECHO: 2007 Annual Report
  • DG ECHO: Annual Report 2006
  • DG ECHO: Annual Report 2005
  • 2004 ECHO annual review
  • 2002 report on ECHO
  • 2001 report on ECHO

European Union institutions and bodies

  • European Parliament: Committee on foreign affairs
  • Council of the European Unión: Foreign affairs
  • European Commission: Humanitarian aid and civil protection, European External Action Service
  • Economic and Social Committee: External relations section
  • Committee of the Regions: Commission for citizenship, governance, institutional affairs and external relations (CIVEX)


Article 214 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides the following:

1. The Union’s operations in the field of humanitarian aid shall be conducted within the
framework of the principles and objectives of the external action of the Union. Such operations
shall be intended to provide ad hoc assistance and relief and protection for people in third countries who are victims of natural or man-made disasters, in order to meet the humanitarian needs resulting from these different situations. The Union’s measures and those of the Member States shall complement and reinforce each other.
2. Humanitarian aid operations shall be conducted in compliance with the principles of
international law and with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination.
3. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative
procedure, shall establish the measures defining the framework within which the Union’s
humanitarian aid operations shall be implemented.
4. The Union may conclude with third countries and competent international organisations any
agreement helping to achieve the objectives referred to in paragraph 1 and in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union.
The first subparagraph shall be without prejudice to Member States’ competence to negotiate in
international bodies and to conclude agreements.
5. In order to establish a framework for joint contributions from young Europeans to the
humanitarian aid operations of the Union, a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps shall be set up. The European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall determine the rules and procedures for the operation of the Corps.
6. The Commission may take any useful initiative to promote coordination between actions of the Union and those of the Member States, in order to enhance the efficiency and complementarity of Union and national humanitarian aid measures.
7. The Union shall ensure that its humanitarian aid operations are coordinated and consistent
with those of international organisations and bodies, in particular those forming part of the United Nations system.

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