EU announces 700-mn-euro aid plan for migrant crisis

BRUSSELS: The European Union announced Wednesday unprecedented plans to provide Greece and other member states with 700 million euros in emergency humanitarian aid to cope with the migrant crisis.

The funds will be allocated over three years, with 300 million euros in 2016, and 200 million euros in each of the following years, EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said.

“No time can be lost in deploying all means possible to prevent humanitarian suffering within our own borders.

Today’s proposal will make 700 million euros ($760 million) available to provide help where it is most needed,” Stylianides said in a statement.

“With this proposal, we will be able to deliver emergency assistance for crises much faster than before, inside the European Union. Right now, there’s no doubt that this will be particularly needed to support refugees.”

If approved by member states and the European Parliament, the plan by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, would amount to the bloc’s first distribution of humanitarian cash within Europe rather than outside the bloc.

The aid plan will also be coordinated for the first time with UN and other aid agencies, the Commission said.