THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, 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 2021, it is necessary to adopt an annual financing decision for 2021. 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, whether sudden- or slowonset, are devastating. Natural disasters are increasing in intensity and scope due to climate change, and entail a constantly increasing loss of life, physical and psychological or social suffering, or material damage.
(3) Man-made humanitarian crises, also referred to as complex crises and mostly resulting from the consequences of conflicts, are today the main source of humanitarian and protection needs in the world, and increasingly protracted.
(4) Direct and indirect humanitarian consequences of pandemics such as COVID-19 can be equally catastrophic and need to be addressed also from the humanitarian perspective.
(5) 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.
(6) The Union became party to the Food Assistance Convention on 28 November 20124 ; 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 2021 of the Union under the Food Assistance Convention.
(7) 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 authorise their financing in full, providing appropriate justification in the award decision.
(8) The envisaged assistance is to comply with the conditions and procedures set out by the restrictive measures adopted pursuant to Article 215 TFEU5 . 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 keeping with the relevant principles of international humanitarian law and with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination referred to in Article 214(2) of the TFEU, the Union should allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded access to humanitarian relief by civilians in need. The relevant Union restrictive measures should be interpreted and implemented in such a manner as not to preclude the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the intended final beneficiaries.
(9) The Commission should acknowledge and accept contributions from other donors made in accordance with Article 21(2)(a)(ii) of the Financial Regulation, subject to the conclusion of the relevant agreement. Where such contributions are not denominated in euro, a reasonable estimate of conversion should be made.
(10) 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.
(11) 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 Aid .
(12) 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.
(13) Pursuant to Article 195(a) of the 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.
(14) The Commission should authorise the eligibility of costs as of a date preceding that of submission of a grant application, which is prior to the date of adoption of this Decision, for reasons of extreme urgency in crisis management aid or in other exceptional and duly substantiated emergencies, whereby an early engagement by the Union would be of major importance.
(15) 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.
(16) 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 Regulation7 and, if necessary, to appropriate supervisory measures in accordance with Article 154(5) of the Financial Regulation before a contribution agreement can be signed.
(17) It is necessary to allow for the payment of interest due for late payment on the basis of Article 116(5) of the Financial Regulation.
(18) In order to allow for flexibility in the implementation of the work programme, it is appropriate to allow changes which should not be considered substantial for the purposes Article 110(5) of the Financial Regulation.
(19) The measures provided for in this Decision are in accordance with the opinion of the Humanitarian Aid Committee established by Article 17(1) HAR,