European Commission resumes awarding grants to Oxfam

11 Jun 2018 News

The European Commission has announced that it will resume awarding grants to Oxfam, after they were suspended as the body required clarification from its partners that they were working to its ethical standards.

The European Commission wrote to 200 organisations that receive funding from its aid department in February, asking them to reconfirm that they have a strong code of conduct.

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “We have taken one step on a much longer road towards re-building trust with all of our donors, including the European Commission. Our work fighting to eradicate poverty and making sure that people in crisis receive the support they need will now be able to proceed with the help of the European Commission. 

“At the same time, we continue to further strengthen our safeguarding policies, ensuring that we abide by the highest ethical and professional standards.”

Monique Pariat, the head of the commission’s humanitarian arm, ECHO, told Devex that the “vast majority” of organisations it contacted had given satisfactory responses. But some, “either did not respond, or provided insufficient answers”. Pariat said that the European Commission “recently wrote to those in the latter group for a second time”, and she said the European Commission is ready to suspend funding if there is no improvement.

The suspension of funding to Oxfam was lifted on 4 June after "checks of the charity’s safeguarding procedures, and visits to its offices in the UK, Netherlands, Lebanon, and Uganda".

European Commission contacted Oxfam in February

In February, a spokesman for the European Commission, which gave around £29m to Oxfam last year, said it was waiting for the charity to “full clarify the allegations with maximum transparency as a matter of urgency”. 

It also said it was ready to review its relationship with Oxfam and threatened it would pull the funding of any partner “not living up to the required high ethical standards”. The spokesman also said that the commission had written to all partner humanitarian organisations to remind them of the “EU’s zero tolerance approach to any allegations of misconduct”. 

The spokesman said at the time: “The European Commission expects its partners to abide by strict ethic and professional codes of conduct and principles, and we take a zero-tolerance approach to any allegations of misconduct by organisations that receive our funding. 

“We expect Oxfam to fully clarify the allegations with maximum transparency as a matter of urgency, and we are ready to review and, if needed, cease funding to any partner who is not living up to the required high ethical standards. 

“The EC has written to all EU funded humanitarian organisations to remind them of their strict obligations and the EU's zero tolerance approach to any allegations of misconduct. The letter requests a detailed description of all measures they have put in place to meet their obligations.” 

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