Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

EU president Van Rompuy wants new aid team

Displaced people in a football stadium in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Thousands of people lost their homes in the Haiti quake

The EU should consider forming a rapid reaction force to deal with future emergencies like the Haiti earthquake, the EU's new president says.

"We have to reflect about a better instrument for reaction," said the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

After providing emergency aid to Haiti the EU should consider a "humanitarian rapid reaction force", he said.

He was speaking after talks in London with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Van Rompuy, who now chairs meetings of EU leaders, said an international conference on rebuilding stricken Haiti would be necessary.

On Monday the EU pledged more than 400m euros (£354m) in emergency aid for Haiti, where severe infrastructure damage is hampering international efforts to help survivors.

Gavin Hewitt
The EU may be most effective at coordinating medium and long-term development
Gavin Hewitt
BBC Europe editor

The European Commission - the EU's executive arm - will provide 137m euros for short-term needs and at least 200m euros for the medium and longer term.

The EU member states will provide an additional 92m euros, officials said after emergency talks in Brussels.

EU aid to Haiti is channelled through the UN, which is co-ordinating the relief effort on the ground.

The man who managed the EU's response to the 2004 Asian tsunami, Euro MP Louis Michel, earlier said he was "very sceptical" about creating a special EU fast intervention corps.

"We don't want the actors stepping on each other's toes and all the world's well-intentioned volunteers crowding the disaster scene," he told the European Parliament's news service.

Mr Michel, a Belgian like Mr Van Rompuy, was previously EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid.

Many thousands of survivors are fending for themselves in Haiti's ruined capital Port-au-Prince and stricken areas nearby.

The UN has launched an appeal for £346m intended to help three million people for six months, most of whom are thought to need emergency relief.

The British government is to triple its aid to Haiti to £20m.


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