BRUSSELS, 10th March, 2016 (WAM) — The European Commission welcomed the fast agreement member states reached on Wednesday on its proposal for an Emergency Assistance instrument to provide faster means of support to EU countries facing major humanitarian crises, such as dealing with large numbers of refugees.

The positive support comes just one week after the Commission put forward the proposal to provide 700 million Euros over the next three years to member states whose own response capacities are overwhelmed by urgent and exceptional circumstances.

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, said, “I strongly welcome the agreement of member states who share our urgency to get emergency support where it’s needed, such as in Greece, as soon as possible. I now look forward to the European Parliament backing our proposal for an amending budget line, so that we can swiftly start providing funds in close cooperation with member states, to key partners that can channel support to refugees in need.”

The council is expected to give its formal approval of the proposal next Tuesday. The commission just proposed, to the European Parliament and to the council as the budgetary authorities, an amending budget for 2016 to create the necessary budget line for the instrument.

As outlined in the commission’s proposal of 2nd March, emergency assistance would be provided in close coordination and consultation 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.

The commission already announced on 10th February its intention to develop the EU’s capacity to provide humanitarian assistance internally and the European Council conclusions of 19th February supported this intention. Building on the experience of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, humanitarian assistance would be directed at covering the great humanitarian needs of refugees and migrants within EU member states.

In response to the refugee crisis within the EU, so far a number of other instruments, such as the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, AMIF, the Internal Security Fund, ISF, or the European Fund for the Most Deprived, FEAD, have already been providing significant financial resources for assistance within Europe. These instruments have proven their use, but they were not designed to address large humanitarian-scale needs.

WAM/tfaham/Moran