2004 is a year of great change in the European Union (EU). Ten new member states joined on 1 May, in the biggest single enlargement of the Union to date.1 A new European Constitution, which suggests radical changes to the EU’s structures and decision-making, is due to be finalised at an Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC); European parliament elections are scheduled for June; and a new College of Commissioners takes office in November. In the context of these impending changes, this paper examines the evolution of the EU’s policy approaches in protracted crises. It is part of an HPG study examining the increased engagement of official development assistance actors in such environments.
The paper begins with an overview of financial trends in the European Commission’s aid spending. It then looks at the various mechanisms available for engaging in protracted crises. First, there is an in-depth comparison of two Commission Communications on Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD). This is followed by a description of changes in the Commission’s mechanisms for the provision of aid in protracted crises. Finally, the paper delineates the changes proposed by the draft Constitution and developments in foreign and defence policies, which give the EU greater scope for robust intervention in protracted crises. The paper concludes with some thoughts on the EU’s future engagement in such situations.