When countries face natural disasters such as forest fires, floods and earthquakes or are in need of emergency assistance due to other crises, the EU has a range of funding and emergency response tools to help.
EU Civil Protection Mechanism
When national capacities to respond to natural disasters are surpassed, European countries often show solidarity by sending assistance in the form of equipment, experts and assets such as planes or vehicles, during the emergency response phase.
This is done through the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism, which has been put into action a record 8 times this summer to help countries affected by forest fires such as Italy, France, Portugal, Albania and Montenegro.
EU funding for reconstruction after natural disasters
Through funding, the EU lends a helping hand to its citizens and Member States when they are affected by natural disasters.
Emergency support within the EU for the refugee crisis
Since 2016, the European Commission can fund humanitarian aid for people in need within the EU territory through the Emergency Support Instrument. Until 2018, up to €700 million of EU-funding will be made available via partner organisations, such as UN agencies, the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations. At this stage, the EU has provided this emergency support to thousands of refugees in Greece, helping provide shelter, food, water as well as protection of child refugees.
EU solidarity in action: the European Solidarity Corps
Within Europe, the newly created European Solidarity Corps provides opportunities for young Europeans between 18 and 30 to provide help to people who need it most, either as a volunteer, or in the framework of a traineeship or a job.
Outside of the EU: a global leader in humanitarian and development assistance
Emergency humanitarian assistance
Together with funding provided by EU Member States, the European Union is the world's largest donor of humanitarian aid. Aid is provided to those most in need in places such as Syria and neighbouring countries hosting large amounts of refugees. It also goes to those forcibly displaced within Africa and other areas of the world. All humanitarian aid is impartial and independent, and is provided to non-governmental and international organisations, the United Nations and the Red Cross societies.
EU solidarity in action: EU Aid Volunteers
EU Aid Volunteers brings together volunteers and organisations from different countries, providing practical support to humanitarian aid projects and contributing to strengthening the local capacity and resilience of disaster-affected communities around the world.
Long term development aid
The EU is also the world's largest aid donor. Official Development Assistance provided by the EU and its Member States reached €75.5 billion in 2016, an 11% increase compared to 2015 levels.