Coordination, Complementarity and Coherence in EU Humanitarian Assistance

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    The mandate of DG ECHO was formally established by a Council Regulation (EC) in 20 June 1996 on humanitarian assistance. Article 10 of this Regulation mandated the Commission to take measures “to promote close coordination between its own activities and those of the Member States, both at decision-making level and on the ground in order to guarantee and enhance the effectiveness and consistency of Community and national humanitarian assistance systems.”

    European Union is currently the largest humanitarian assistance donor in the world and contributes over 30% of the total international public budget for humanitarian assistance.  

    The EU competence on development cooperation was established by the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which formalised the existence of a European development policy functioning in liaison with those of Member States, while recognising their interdependence. To guide its practical implementation the Maastricht Treaty established three specific principles: coordination, complementarity and coherence – the '3 Cs'. Although there is no explicit reference to humanitarian assistance in the Maastricht Treaty it is considered implicit that DG ECHO is obliged to also respect these principles.

    DG ECHO was required to evaluate how the various organisational changes that its management had initiated in the period between 2000 and 2005, also in relation to a previous evaluation of 1998/99, the Commission reform process, and new challenges affecting 


    Photo: Steve Cockburn/Oxfam

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