EU financial assistance to Palestinian people

Future Europe

Estimated time of reading: ~ 3 minutes

The European Union has provided external assistance to the Palestinian people for years, allocating €2.2 billion in bilateral aid between 2014 and 2020. More recently, in November 2022, the European Development Partners, consisting of the EU, EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, adopted the European Joint Strategy to support Palestine 2021-2024. Its amount is indicative of €1.18 billion. In addition to the actions mentioned above, the EU financial assistance consists of different instruments.

First, most of the assistance falls under the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)’—Global Europe’ for 2021-2027. This includes supporting the establishment of an administrative structure, building new infrastructure, and supporting civil society. According to the European Commission, €681 million of the €1.18 billion planned overall for 2021 to 2024 has already been approved since 2021, of which €218 million has yet to be spent.

Second, in 2022, the EU released over €26.5 million in humanitarian funding for Palestinians, according to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO).

Third, for 2023, the EU allocated €28 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in need. However, Hamas’s terrorist attacks against people in Israel and the subsequent Israeli military operation against Hamas in response to those attacks have led to a catastrophic humanitarian situation for Palestinians living in Gaza. In response, the EU has drastically increased its humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, raising the total to €103 million for 2023.

Fourth, Palestinians (but also Israelis) can participate in the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programmes, and Palestine is eligible under the Interreg NEXT Mediterranean Sea Basin programme and a beneficiary of the food and resilience facility.

Following Hamas’s terrorist attacks on 7 October 2023, the EU Commission reviewed all financial aid for Palestine, aside from humanitarian assistance, concerning its feasibility and risks. The EU Commission will redistribute the funds envisaged for non-feasible projects to other projects in the Palestinian territories.

Moreover, the European Parliament has called on the Commission to reassess the region’s humanitarian aid needs to ensure that EU funding continues to reach those in need.

The financial support from the EU does not reflect a political position in favour of one side or another. It testifies to the effort to address the humanitarian crisis happening in Gaza.

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission in November 2023, stated, “We Europeans must be among the keepers of international and humanitarian law. This is why our partners in the world—and our rivals—are closely following the positions we take on the dramatic developments in the Middle East. (…) We must work on a de-escalation in Gaza and a humanitarian solution. All EU Member States back immediate pauses in hostilities. Humanitarian pauses, cease-fire, truces… the name does not really matter, what matters is to limit the suffering of the Palestinian civilian populations and Israeli hostages”.

Written by: Cristina Ceccarelli

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