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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Outcry at EU plan to mix aid and foreign policy

Discussions are under way for a potential merger between the EU's humanitarian aid and crisis management budgets after 2013, raising concerns among a number of NGOs and MEPs that EU aid could become increasingly politicised. The commission's humanitarian aid budget in 2010 was €1.2 billion, administered by Bulgarian commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, while crisis management resources are being increasingly directed by the EU's new External Action Service under Italian official Agostino Miozzo, working for high representative Catherine Ashton. "There is an idea on the table [to merge the two budgets] which is being considered by some people," a commission official working in the humanitarian aid sector said on Thursday (10 February) on condition of anonymity. "It's not a formal proposal at the moment and it's not something we would support." The commission is to come forward with a blueprint for the EU's next multi-annual budget in June this year. But some MEPs are already warning they will not tolerate any transfer of humanitarian decision making, implied by the budget merger, to Catherine Ashton, who answers primarily to member states despite her official duties in the EU-centric commission.

Source: EUObserver