Christos Stylianides, 56, will join the Juncker team as Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner. He will have to deal with the enormous challenges that the EU is facing. In his own words: "Bold political decisions are needed for a new beginning. Humanitarian crises, conflicts and disasters around the world are bigger and more complex than ever."
Defending basic human freedoms and the right to live with dignity for all
“Humanitarian disasters have no ethnic or religious colour,” adds Stylianides, recalling his bitter personal experiences of the division of Cyprus in 1974 and the suffering in both Cypriot communities. “This experience forged my commitment to defending basic human freedoms and the right to live with dignity for all human beings.”
The Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Commissioner-Designate will pay special attention to the Ebola crisis. The outbreak of the virus in West Africa is the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.
As a doctor, I have to be on the ground to form my own opinion Christos Stylianides
Stylianides has committed to visiting the Ebola-affected countries and deciding on immediate action: “As a doctor, I have to be on the ground to form my own opinion”. He would be the first international official to visit Ebola-affected areas.
Facing a growing number of humanitarian crises worldwide
Stylianides has followed a remarkable political path: Member of the Cypriot Parliament from 2006 to 2013 and elected Member of the Bureau of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in 2012-2013, he has served twice as Spokesperson for the Cypriot Government. First from 1998 to 1999 and then from March 2013 until April 2014, when he stepped down to run as a candidate in the European elections.
Bold political decisions are needed for a new beginning. Humanitarian crises, conflicts and disasters around the world are bigger and more complex than ever.
“Europe is a vision, a political and social model, for which I have passionately advocated throughout my political career,” stressed Stylianides at his confirmation hearing before the Members of the European Parliament's Committee on Development on 30 September.
In his new position, Stylianides will have a very difficult task at a time of growing numbers of humanitarian crises.
Worldwide, there are currently over 51 million refugees and internally-displaced persons (people that have not crossed an international border to find sanctuary but have remained inside their home countries) - the highest number since World War II. Stylianides underlined that he will enhance EU efforts to meet their humanitarian needs when asked about the massive influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq to neighbouring countries.
Boosting the outcome of European humanitarian aid
Improving resilience is one of the top goals in his working programme. It is the key to avoiding humanitarian crises. “Prevention is better than cure. Investing in resilience now is much more cost-effective than responding to a crisis tomorrow.”
Prevention is better than cure. Investing in resilience now is much more cost-effective than responding to a crisis tomorrow
Another top priority is to boost the efficacy of Europe’s emergency response to disasters. “The EU must not arrive with too little too late,” is his firm belief.
We should make sure that Europe remains a major donor of the humanitarian aid that makes us feel proud to be European
Today, the EU is the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the world. We have assisted more than 120 million victims of man-made and natural disasters each year. We have channelled aid to people suffering in Syria or the Central African Republic and helped the Sahel region and other conflict areas.
"We should make sure that Europe remains a major donor of the humanitarian aid that makes us feel proud to be European," says Stylianides, about his intentions in his new job in the Juncker Commission.