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Thursday, 11 February 2010

EU commission justifies Haiti 'visibility' concerns

The European Commission has said that improving the EU's "visibility" as an aid donor is a secondary concern next to helping the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Commission spokeswoman Pia Arkenhilde told EUobserver on Thursday (28 january) that it is "a complete misunderstanding" to think the EU is trying to compete with the US on image amid the relief effort. "It would be wholly tasteless to enter into a beauty contest in such a situation. The first priority is that aid reaches the right people at the right time," she said."But it's obvious that visibility is part of being effective. It's important for the recipients of the aid to know who they are dealing with and for the European tax payer, the donors of the aid, to see the actions on the ground, in terms of their future engagement," she added.The plan, put forward by French politician Michel Barnier, said the EU force should wear a distinctive uniform as part of measures to make it a more prominent player in the aid sector: "It would include the European flag followed by the logo 'Europe Aid' and the flag of the country of the wearer." Haiti visibility has also become an issue in Brussels' internal squabbles, with Mr Barnier and French MEPs in recent days criticising the EU's foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton, for not flying the EU flag in the earthquake zone.

Source: EU Observer