Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Wednesday, 19 September 2012 14:02 UK

European Commission

The EU's Development Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, announced formal plans for a European Voluntary Corps in Humanitarian Aid, during the midday briefing.

Speaking on 19 September 2012, she said the force would give 9,500 European volunteers the opportunity to engage in humanitarian activities worldwide, under an EU banner.

A series of pilot projects have been carried out in the past year and the new legislative proposals will put the aid force on a legal footing.

Ms Georgieva claimed there had been a five-fold increase in natural disasters since 1975, meaning there was a growing needs for an EU humanitarian force.

The legislative proposal will now to go the Council of Ministers for further negotiation, with the aim of having the force in place by 2014.

Meanwhile, the EU's Regional Affairs Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, has outlined a €670m aid package for the reconstruction of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.

The area was struck by two earthquakes in May 2012, causing the deaths of 27 people and leading to widespread damage.

Mr Hahn said it was the biggest single piece of funding since the EU's Solidarity Fund was set up in 2002.

The fund was established to respond to major disasters such as forest fires, floods and earthquakes.

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