The European Union is the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the world, providing funding, goods and services to help deal with emergency and crisis situations that seriously affect people and countries, both in Europe and abroad.
EU action is guided by the fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence and comprises three elements: emergency aid, food aid and aid to refugees and displaced persons. The humanitarian principles are enshrined in the "European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid", signed in December 2007 by the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission. The Consensus is the central cornerstone guiding EU humanitarian aid policy, providing a common vision and principles and a practical approach. It ensures that the actions conducted by the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) comply with European principles. This Commission coordinates operations and works with partners on the ground, in particular the United Nations and non-governmental organisations: aid is distributed through more than 200 international and local organisations and agencies, with the support of thousands of European volunteers.
To be an EU Aid Volunteer you have to be a European citizen or have been resident in Europe for a long time. The costs for training, accommodation and travel expenses for those who want to engage in a humanitarian aid project will be covered by the European Union. If you are curious about how much Europe spends in this area, you don't have to worry: the aid amounts to 1% of the total annual EU budget, which is approximately 4 euros per European citizen.
Civil protection plays a key role in coordinating crisis responses in Europe and around the world. Concrete and potential emergencies are constantly monitored and participating countries also cooperate on risk assessment, preparedness and disaster prevention planning. Emergency relief can be provided in the form of food, shelter or equipment, specially equipped teams or assessment and coordination activities carried out by experts sent to the field. Rescue teams, experts and equipment from participating countries are kept available so that the EU can provide rapid responses worldwide. When a disaster compromises a country's ability to control it, other states participate and provide assistance: all EU Member States, as well as Iceland, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey, participate in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.