ECHO (European Commission)

European Community Humanitarian aid Office (ECHO) is the European Commission's department for humanitarian aid. In 2005 it provided €652 million for humanitarian aid. The yearly amount spent by ECHO is approximately €43 billion, around half of the world's humanitarian aid budget.


ECHO was established in 1992 by the Second Delors Commission. It comes under the responsibility of the European Commissioner for Development & Humanitarian Aid, currently Louis Michel. Funding from the office affects 18 million people every year in 60 countries. It spends €700 million a year on humanitarian projects and has over 200 partners (such as the Red Cross and UN agencies). It claims a key focus is to make EU aid more effective and humanitarian.


In 2006, ECHO's aid budget amounted to 671 million euro, 48% of which went to the ACP countries. Together with the aid given by member states individually, the Union is the largest aid donor in the world.

The Union would not reach the accepted international target of 0.7% of GNP until 2015. However only a few countries have reached that target and in 2005, Union aid was 0.34% of GNP which was higher than the United States and Japan. The Union aim to increase its aid to 0.56% of the GNP by 2010, moving to 0.7% in 2015.


The current commissioner for aid, Louis Michel, has called for aid to be delivered more rapidly, to greater effect and on humanitarian principles.

Some charities have claimed European governments have inflated the amount they have spent on aid by incorrectly including money spent on debt relief, foreign students and refugees. Under the de-inflated figures, the Union did not reach its internal aid target in 2006.

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