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Parliamentary questions
8 June 2018
E-001194/2018
Answer given by Mr Stylianides on behalf of the Commission

The Commission expects its partners to abide by strict ethical and professional rules, codes of conduct and principles and to comply with the obligation to implement EU-funded development cooperation and humanitarian actions with care, efficiency, transparency and diligence. This includes zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse through effective prevention, reporting and response mechanisms, as clearly stated in Article 5(e)(iv) of the framework Partnership Agreements signed with non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners in the field of humanitarian aid(1). NGOs are furthermore under a duty to share information on possible breaches of their contractual obligations.

The Commission, on behalf of the European Union, as humanitarian and development assistance donor, requires that its partners have in place effective and coordinated prevention, reporting and response mechanisms, in particular when vulnerable groups like women and children are concerned.

In February 2018, as regards development and humanitarian aid partners, the Commission sought reassurance from all Framework Partnership Agreement signatories(2) that all partners and their members have in place measures that ensure zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, abuse and any wrongful conduct that has an impact on the credibility of the contractor. The Commission requested all its partners to provide information on their policies and procedures to prevent, report and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. The Commission is assessing the information submitted and is to take effective measures to verify its partners’ compliance with the principle of zero tolerance against sexual exploitation and abuse.

As a rule, when the Commission considers that a Humanitarian Partner is in breach of its contractual obligations, the Commission may take various steps, including suspension of payments, termination of grant agreement(s), reduction of the grant(s) or application of financial or administrative penalties, pursuant to the applicable regulatory and contractual provisions.

Should the Commission suspect that Union funds might have been misappropriated, it will refer the case to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) which will decide whether to open an investigation. The Commission will strive to ensure that its contractual templates for use in external action comprehensively prohibit sexual exploitation and abuse.

(1)http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/partners/humanitarian_aid/fpa/2014/FPA_NGO_en.pdf
(2)More than 200 signatories.

Last updated: 8 June 2018Legal notice