Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report


IRAQ EC BUDGET—EMERGENCY AID RESERVE

Letter from The Lord Filkin CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office, to the Chairman

  I am writing to advise the Committee of the Commission's proposal to use

79 million of the

217 million in the Emergency Aid Reserve (EAR), to finance additional humanitarian assistance for Iraq. The proposal will be discussed by the Budget Committee next Tuesday, and it is very likely to be approved quickly, by a qualified majority.

  This proposal, in addition to the

21 million already earmarked for humanitarian assistance in Iraq, will bring the total funds for Iraq in 2003 to

100 million. It constitutes the EU's contribution to the wider international effort, and seems to be a sensible response.

  The commission is proposing to use the additional funds as follows:

    —  

    40 million to support the relief activities of the Un and some Non-Government Organisations (NGOs);

    —  

    15 million to provide initial relief for refugee camps, split equally between the UN High Commission for Refugees, the Red Cross and the NGOs; and

    —  

    24 million to provide front-load funding of UN agencies working to secure basic infrastructure (primary health care centres, water and sanitation systems), provide drugs, protect civilian populations (by, for example, removing mines and unexploded ordinance) and provide shelter and non-food items for refugees/displaced civilians.

  The UK is keen to provide humanitarian assistance for Iraq through all appropriate channels as soon as it is needed. However, we remain concerned that budget discipline is maintained and that this additional EC money is spent wisely. Although there are no unallocated funds in the humanitarian aid budget, we will be seeking a Commission assurance that there are no practical opportunities to re-allocate funds from other commitments before approving use of the Reserve. Subject to that, the Government will fully support the Commission's proposal

31 March 2003


 
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