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Press Release
Declaration of the President of the Council to the European Parliament on the tidal wave in Asia and its consequences

Date of release : 12-01-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : European Parliament plenary session

On 12 January, Jean Asselborn, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the current President of the Council, addressed the European Parliament on the subject of the tsunami in Asia.

After relating the different phases of the action plan of the European Union, he outlined the various measures taken by the Council to provide the best response to the urgency of the situation at the financial, material and healthcare level. He also discussed the financial and operational means to address the issue through successive phases of rehabilitation and reconstruction to be undertaken in the region.

On the financial level, Jean Asselborn announced that "the combined public relief aid of the European Union and of the Member States for the victims of the tsunami (emergency assistance and reconstruction aid) now stands at EUR 1.5 billion. However, the Council insists that this effort must not make us forget the general problem of development, humanitarian aid and the Millennium development goals, especially in Africa, nor can we allow it to diminish the resources set aside for that purpose."

On the healthcare level, "the Member States have been invited to unite their efforts under the aegis of the World Health Organisation (WHO)  in an effort to prevent the risk of epidemics and restore health infrastructures by sending the appropriate medical teams and material. The EU and its Member States will act in support of the WHO."

Regarding the longer-term measures, the Council expects "that the capacity of the European Union to face major catastrophes of this type will be strengthened and indicated its will to equip it with the following instruments:

  • strategy of prevention, early-warning and rapid-response system for disasters, especially in view of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe (Japan) this coming 18 and 19 of January;
  • improvement of the civil protection and humanitarian aid mechanism as well as of analytical capacities."

"The Council also wishes to develop the rapid-response capabilities of the EU by providing it with appropriate planning, coordination and fund mobilisation structures. Beyond strengthening consular cooperation, other measures should be taken, such as:

  • the development of the rapid-response capability of the EU (early/rapid-warning system) to create a voluntary European humanitarian aid corps ("red helmets");
  • strengthening EU coordination in the areas of rescue, evacuation, provision of medical supplies and treatment;
  • strengthening consular cooperation, especially within the framework of the creation of a common External Service;
  • measures of commercial support and bilateral partnerships, including twinning of cities, hospitals, etc.;
  • planning the servicing of the debt of the affected countries that have asked for assistance in this area."

This page was last modified on : 13-01-2005

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