EU commissioner accused of delaying aid to Palestine, sparks controversy

Barry Andrews, a member of the European Parliament (EP) from the liberal Renew Group, has accused Oliver Varhelyi, the EU commissioner responsible for enlargement and neighborhood, of delaying aid to Palestine, raising concerns over the EU’s commitment to supporting the region.

In a Friday article on the euobserver news website, Irish MEP Andrews pointed to an Oct. 7 social media post by Varhelyi announcing the suspension of all EU aid to Palestine following an attack by Hamas’ military wing on Israel and Israel’s subsequent response.

The EU administration later corrected this statement, clarifying that aid would be reviewed to prevent it from reaching Hamas.

Andrews highlighted the EU’s statement on Oct. 9, emphasizing that payments to Palestine were not suspended because “no payments were already foreseen.”

However, he drew attention to a less-noticed sentence in the statement, showing that the Annual Action Plan for Palestine had not been submitted for the approval of member countries.

The Irish MEP
expressed concern about the significant delay in presenting the action plan, which falls under Varhelyi’s responsibility.

According to Andrews, this delay implies that the EU’s pound 168 million ($182.7 million) in development aid to Palestine for 2024 had effectively been frozen, even before the escalation of the current conflict.

“I won’t speculate on the reasons behind this delay, but Varhelyi has a history of delaying and suspending aid to Palestine,” Andrews commented, raising questions about the commissioner’s approach to supporting the Palestinian territories.

Aid to Palestine delayed before

Andrews said that last year the European Commission suspended pound 215 million in EU funds to six leading Palestinian civil society groups based on Israeli intelligence for a period of 13 months.

Israel had labeled six Palestinian civil society organizations terrorist groups, drawing sharp criticism from UN human rights experts.

This decision coincided with an attempt to link the resumption of funds to the P
alestinian agency for Palestinian refugees or UNRWA to the removal of content deemed “anti-Israel” from school textbooks.

Following the European Anti-Fraud Office’s (OLAF) failure to find any irregularities and/or fraud suspicions and the lack of sufficient grounds to initiate an investigation, the financing was resumed.

“Regardless of your views on the conflict, the EU appearing divided or hypocritical is not in anyone’s interest. There is also the issue of Varhelyi and the commission as a whole,” said Andrews.

“The commission’s inability to sanction Varhelyi due to this blatant extremism and the European Parliament’s inability to hold itself accountable indicate a worrying lack of balance and oversight within the EU political system. The EU needs to find a common voice in the face of this crisis. A consistent and principled aid policy would be a good starting point,” he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency