THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,
Having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU)
No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/20121 , and in particular Article 110 thereof,
Having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 of 20 June 1996 concerning humanitarian aid2 ('the Humanitarian Aid Regulation' or 'HAR'), and in particular Article 1,
Article 2, Article 4 and Article 15(2) and (3) thereof,
Having regard to Council Decision 2013/755/EU of 25 November 2013 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union ('the Overseas Association Decision')3 , and in particular Article 79 thereof,
(1) In order to ensure the implementation of the humanitarian aid actions of the Union for 2019, it is necessary to adopt an annual financing decision for 2019. Article 110 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 (‘the Financial Regulation’) establishes detailed rules on financing decisions.
(2) The human and economic losses caused by natural disasters are devastating. These natural disasters, be they sudden or slow onset, that entail major loss of life, physical and psychological or social suffering or material damage, are constantly increasing, and with them so is the number of victims. Man-made humanitarian crises, resulting from wars or outbreaks of fighting (also called complex or protracted crises) account for a large proportion of, and are, the main source of humanitarian needs in the world.
There is also a need for international support for preparedness activities. Disaster preparedness aims at reducing the impact of disasters and crises on populations, allowing early warning and early action to better assist those affected.
(3) The humanitarian aid funded under this Decision should also cover essential activities and support services to humanitarian organisations as referred to in Articles 2(c) and 4 HAR, including notably the protection of humanitarian goods and personnel.
(4) The Union became party to the Food Assistance Convention on 28 November 2012; the Convention entered into force on 1 January 2013. In accordance with Article 5 of the Convention, an amount of EUR 350 000 000, to be spent as food and nutrition assistance funded under this Decision, is to be counted towards the minimum annual commitment for the year 2019 of the Union under the Food Assistance Convention.
(5) Although as a general rule grants funded by this Decision should be co-financed, by way of derogation, the Authorising Officer in accordance with Article 190(3) of the Financial Regulation, may agree to their full financing.
(6) The envisaged assistance is to comply with the conditions and procedures set out by the restrictive measures adopted pursuant to Article 215 TFEU. The needs-based and impartial nature of humanitarian aid implies that the Union may be called to finance humanitarian assistance in crises and countries covered by Union restrictive measures.
In such situations, and in keeping with the relevant principles of international law and with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination referred to in Article 214(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Union should allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded access to humanitarian relief by civilians in need. The relevant Union restrictive measures should therefore be interpreted and implemented in such a manner as not to preclude the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the intended beneficiaries.
(7) The Commission may acknowledge and accept contributions from other donors in accordance with Article 21(2)(b) of the Financial Regulation, subject to the signing of the relevant agreement. Where such contributions are not denominated in euro, a reasonable estimate of conversion should be made.
(8) It is advisable to maintain a part of the Union budget for humanitarian aid unallocated in order to cover unforeseen operations, as part of an operational reserve.
(9) In cases where Union funding is granted to non-governmental organisations in accordance with Article 7 HAR, in order to guarantee that the beneficiaries of that funding are able to meet their commitments in the long term, the Authorising Officer responsible should verify if the non-governmental organisations concerned satisfy the requisite eligibility and selection criteria, notably as regards their legal, operational and financial capacity. The verification to be made should also seek to confirm whether the non-governmental organisations concerned are able to provide humanitarian aid in accordance with the humanitarian principles set out in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid4 .
(10) In cases where the Union finances humanitarian aid operations of Member States' specialised agencies in accordance with Article 9 HAR, in order to guarantee that the beneficiaries of Union grants are capable of fulfilling their commitments in the long run, the Authorising Officer responsible should verify the legal, operational and, where the entities or bodies concerned are governed by private law, financial capacity of any Member States' specialised agencies desiring to receive financial support under this Decision. The verification to be made should notably seek to confirm whether the Member States' specialised agencies concerned are able to provide humanitarian assistance or equivalent international relief outside the Union in accordance with the humanitarian principles set out in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.
(11) Pursuant to Article 195(a) Financial Regulation, it is appropriate to authorise the award of grants without a call for proposals to the non-governmental organisations satisfying the eligibility and suitability criteria referred to in Article 7 HAR for the purpose of humanitarian aid.
(12) In order to ensure an effective delivery in the field of Union-funded humanitarian aid in all relevant crisis contexts while taking into account the specific mandates of international organisations, such as the United Nations and the international component of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement (International Committee of the Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), it is necessary to use indirect management for the implementation of Union-funded humanitarian aid operations.
(13) The Commission is to ensure a level of protection of the financial interests of the Union with regards to entities and persons entrusted with the implementation of Union funds by indirect management as provided for in Article 154(3) of the Financial Regulation. To this end, such entities and persons are to be subject to an assessment of their systems and procedures in accordance with Article 154(4) of the Financial Regulationand, if necessary, to appropriate supervisory measures in accordance with Article 154(5) of the Financial Regulation before a contribution agreement can be signed.
(14) It is necessary to allow for the payment of interest due for late payment on the basis of Article 116(5) Financial Regulation.
(15) It is appropriate to reserve appropriations for a trust fund in accordance with Article 234 Financial Regulation in order to strengthen the international role of the Union in external actions and development and to increase its visibility and efficiency.
(16) In order to allow for flexibility in the implementation of the financing decision, it is appropriate to define the term 'substantial change' within the meaning of Article 110(5) of the Financial Regulation.
(17) The measures provided for in this Decision are in accordance with the opinion of the Humanitarian Aid Committee established by Article 17(1) HAR.