The Commission today published the results of its review of current EU financial assistance to Palestine, announced two days after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on October 7.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed that “the EU is the largest international donor of aid to the Palestinians. After the terrible events of October 7, a careful review of our financial assistance was necessary. This review confirmed that the safeguards in place are effective. Work is currently underway on the design of our future support to the Palestinians, taking into account the changing and still evolving situation.
The review showed that the Commission’s controls and existing safeguards in place – which have been significantly strengthened over recent years – are working well and no evidence has been found to date that funds have been diverted to unintended ends.
The review followed a two-stage approach. A first operational review took place to assess the feasibility of the projects in light of the new situation on the ground. As part of this step, the review identified a list of non-feasible projects amounting to €75.6 million, which will be reprogrammed in favor of the Palestinians in light of new priorities to be identified on the ground. These mainly concern large infrastructure projects, including Gas for Gaza, the Gaza desalination plant and access to water services, the implementation of which is not feasible in the current context.
As part of the second stage, the Commission carried out a risk assessment, for which all implementing partners were invited to provide information on the control mechanisms in place. In the current context, the Commission has identified some additional measures, such as the inclusion of relevant anti-incentive contractual clauses in all new contracts and ensuring monitoring of their strict application at all times. This could notably be done through monitoring by a third of the beneficiaries.
While additional information is sought from all grant recipients and pillar-assessed organizations to assess whether any adjustments may be necessary, ongoing support will continue to be implemented with the organizations that provided the clarifications requested and assurances on the guarantees in place, notably Agencies of EU Member States and international financial institutions. Beneficiaries facing allegations of inciting hatred and violence after the events of October 7, 2023 were invited to comment on the allegations made against them. This concerns in particular two projects with Civil Society Organizations. Payments will be processed once satisfactory clarification has been provided in accordance with the Financial Regulation.
The review covered the entire development portfolio, including programs supporting the Palestinian population, the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as well as relevant programs from other Commission services such as Erasmus+. This was not humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.
The aim of this review was firstly to ensure that, in the new circumstances, no EU funding indirectly enables a terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel; secondly, ensuring full compliance with EU law and policy, as well as preventing any possible abuse of EU funding to incite hatred and violence; and third, assess whether support programs should be adjusted in light of current circumstances.
The review followed a two-step methodology: an operational review of the feasibility of the projects and a risk assessment of possible diversion of aid and incitement to hatred and violence perpetrated in the context of the implementation. implementation of projects. The selection of projects was carried out according to objective criteria for both phases. The beneficiary organizations were consulted on these aspects.
The European Union is the largest provider of external aid to the Palestinians through the Joint European Strategy (JES) 2021-2024, which amounts to almost
1.2 billion euros as an indication, of which 691 million euros have already been adopted. This includes direct contributions to the Palestinian Authority through the PEGASE mechanism, support to civil society organizations (CSOs), projects through international financial institutions (IFIs) and contributions to the Relief Agency and work of the United Nations for the Palestinians (UNRWA).
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