BRUSSELS, 3rd March, 2016 (WAM) — The European Commission has proposed an ‘Emergency Assistance Instrument’ to be used within the European Union to provide a faster, more targeted response to major crises, including helping member states cope with large numbers of refugees.

The initiative comes as the refugee crisis reaches an unprecedented scale with the need to provide immediate emergency support in several member states which are hosting large amounts of refugees on their territories.

From the outset, the commission has been committed to supporting its member states by all means possible, and the proposal is a direct follow up to the European Council of 18th-19th February, when governments called on the commission to develop the capacity to provide emergency assistance internally.

The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, said, “With this proposal, we will be able to deliver emergency assistance for crises much faster than before, inside the European Union. Right now, there’s no doubt that this will be particularly needed to support refugees. No time can be lost in deploying all means possible to prevent humanitarian suffering within our own borders. Today’s proposal will make 700 million Euros available to provide help where it is most needed. I now look to European governments and the European Parliament to quickly back the proposal.”

Member states whose own response capacities are overwhelmed by urgent and exceptional circumstances, such as the sudden influx of refugees or other major disruptions, could benefit from this new instrument. The provision of emergency assistance will be based on Article 122 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This will allow for support to be provided in the fastest and broadest possible way, in a spirit of solidarity between member states.

Emergency assistance would be provided in close coordination with member states and organisations such as UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and international organisations, and include the provision of basic necessities such as food, shelter and medicine to the large numbers of children, women and men currently arriving in EU countries.