Van Rompuy would like to see an 'EU humanitarian Rapid Reaction Force' - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Van Rompuy would like to see an 'EU humanitarian Rapid Reaction Force'

Tuesday, 19 January 2010
10 Downing Street, London, UK was today's stop on Herman Van Rompuy's whistle-stop tour of Europe, where he met British PM Gordon Brown and discussed economic growth and floated the idea of creating an EU humanitarian Rapid Reaction Force.

Herman Van Rompuy (left) and Gordon Brown 19/01/10In the press conference after their meeting this morning, it was interesting to note how while Gordon Brown sketched out his vision for jobs and growth in the EU, the President of the European Council just stared down at his papers, only twice did he look across at his fellow leader.

Perhaps we should only read into this as Mr Van Rompuy simply concentrating hard to ensure he delivers his message clearly. After all, despite being Belgian and fluent in English, it is no doubt daunting in front of all those cameras.

Yet, it was not a new message. Mr Van Rompuy has been smart to identify the fact that Europe's economic crisis is not going away and he has made tackling this his first priority. In order to do so, he has numerously issued calls for an annual EU economic summit.

But then the conversation turned to Haiti, and Mr Van Rompuy tossed out the idea of a humanitarian Rapid Reaction Force.

No other details were forthcoming - who would run it, who would finance it, where it would be based, but his reasons are honest enough. He said delays in providing aid have proven that "a better instrument for reacting - a rapid reaction force" is needed.

To watch the whole press conference, click here.

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

The European Commission has pledged to dispatch €137 million immediately as emergency funds and at least a further €200 million for medium and longer term projects to rebuild the country.

In addition, individual EU member states have pledged a combined total of €92 million.

But while Mr Brown tried to steal the spotlight with his announcements, it is that of Mr Van Rompuy that gets the headlines. But already, Belgian MEP Louis Michel, the man who managed the EU's response to the 2004 Asian tsunami, has come out and said he is "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 said in an interview published by the European Parliament's news service.

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