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The EU is the world’s largest humanitarian donor through the member states’ own contributions, the community aid and the European Development Fund. The humanitarian aid of the EU is established in the Lisbon Treaty as an independent jurisdiction.

The humanitarian action is managed by the Humanitarian Aid department of the European (ECHO) by the commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, Kristialina Georgieva, as well as by the European External Action Service (EEAS). ECHO do not carry out projects, but channels the aid through private organizations, the United Nations system and the Red Cross movement.

The European Consensus on humanitarian aid was adopted in 2007, and provides the framework for the effort.  The Consensus emphasizes the responsibility of the EU as a donor to observe the humanitarian principles and to contribute to good practice in the humanitarian field.

Denmark works to improve coordination between member states and the Commission to ensure effective humanitarian aid. This is done by improving the flow of information and experiences between the member states and the EU, and by making use of the individual actors’ comparative advantages.

The Lisbon Treaty introduced a new specific legal base for humanitarian assistance enabling the EU to adopt measures to provide humanitarian assistance for victims of natural or man-made disasters. The measures must be in compliance with the principles of international law and with the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination.