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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aid yes, but be sure to wave the EU flag

A famous Chinese proverb says: "When the finger points at the moon, the foolish man looks at the finger". We don't know if EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva (in action in the picture) is familiar with Chinese proverbs, but this one she would do well to contemplate.

In an interview with EurActiv, Georgieva lamented that - unlike the US - the EU's humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of the recent floods in Pakistan have barely been visible in TV and press coverage of the disaster.

So says Georgieva,
"Raising the visibility of Europe and making sure that our flag shines when we are abroad helping people in need is something that I find incredibly important. Especially now, when we are still not through with the economic and financial crises and it is hard for people here, and we also have our own disasters at home".
Say what? You would think that the existence or not of EU flags is the last thing anyone (not least the 14 million victims) cares about on the ground of Southern Asia's worst flooding in 80 years. But the EU's Aid Commissioner knows her priorities.

Euractiv also noted that "Georgieva said she was telling humanitarian organisations that they should do more to help the EU to help them by flying the EU flag". So EU flag first, then aid, is that the message?

Of course Europe should give emergency aid to Pakistan - and much of it (given that it is properly targeted and effective - which unfortunately EU aid too often isn't). But the EU's obsession with visibility and flag-waving is becoming more disturbing by the day.

What's next, a fine for Pakistan for failing to fly the EU flag?


f. said...

You are right, aid should come first. However, the same people fingering the EU for claiming the flag to be visible, exactly the same, I say, will blame the EU for remaining passive, basing their arguments on the fact that European is even not visible. Sometimes it's becoming boring.

greenie said...

Why are we giving humanitarian aid to a country that can afford 1.4 billion for F16 fighters from America. A country that can afford its own nuclear arsenal. These people are definitely unfortunate and need help but their government should match aid at a rate of 10 to 1 dollars and stop whining.