Europeans generally maintained spending on humanitarian aid and contributed to the response to the typhoon in the Philippines in November.
European spending on humanitarian aid mainly remained level or increased in response to crises. Syria remained the single biggest humanitarian crisis (see component 62) but there was also a need for a response to the collapse of CAR and the typhoon in the Philippines. The largest humanitarian donors such as the Nordic countries and the UK have already been disbursing funds at a high rate in recent years, so did not see major increases in 2013, but other EU members, ranging from Belgium to Hungary, did raise their contributions. Among traditional humanitarian players, Spain has been the worst affected by the euro crisis, cutting its humanitarian spending from €40 million to €20 million between 2012 and 2013. Greece’s humanitarian budget has been almost completely wiped out, and Cyprus has similarly seen its funds drop.
Given the pressure on individual states’ budgets, the European Commission continues to play an outsize part in humanitarian aid. At the beginning of 2013, the Commission had set aside €660 million for humanitarian aid, but this was raised to just over €825 million in June and €1.145 billion in August. This remains an area in which there is a strong EU identity, and the commissioner in charge of humanitarian aid, Kristalina Georgieva, has boldly pushed the boundaries of her mandate, for example taking an activist approach in response to the CAR crisis. By the end of 2013, the Commission was the largest donor to CAR (although it had far less than the sums involved in cases such as Syria) and had set up an “air bridge” to get aid workers to Bangui.
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November also tested European humanitarian budgets, and the UK, the Commission, and Germany were among the leading financial responders (although Japan, South Korea, and non-Western donors such as Saudi Arabia also made significant pledges). The UK also sent military vessels and personnel to assist, although their presence was overshadowed by American naval help.