EU not in 'Beauty Contest' With US in Haiti Relief Effort

Europe is not in a “beauty contest” with the United States in Haiti, a Brussels spokesperson told the EU Observer after criticisms emerged about what some regard as the bloc’s “low profile” during the ongoing Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

“It would be wholly tasteless to enter into a beauty contest in such a situation. The first priority is that aid reaches the right people at the right time,” said Pia Arkenhilde, a spokesperson with the European Commission.

“But it’s obvious that visibility is part of being effective. It’s important for the recipients of the aid to know who they are dealing with and for the European tax payer, the donors of the aid, to see the actions on the ground, in terms of their future engagement,” she added.

The commission’s comment came after French politician Michel Barnier put forward a proposal to have EU forces wear a uniform bearing the EU flag, the wearer’s country flag and the logo EuropeAid. Barnier and a number of fellow French politicians previously criticized EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton for not representing EU on the ground in Haiti.

“The EU is doing a good job,” Barnier was quoted by the EU Observer, “but we could do more to show people the EU is there.”

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.