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from Global News Journal:

EU catches up in race to help Haiti

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OUKTP-UK-QUAKE-HAITI-UNIn the six days since a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, the world has responded with vast amounts of aid and promises of long-term reconstruction, something the Caribbean country's creaking infrastructure desperately needs.

The World Bank and the United States pledged $100 million each, the United Nations promised $10 million and announced a "flash" appeal for $500 million more, and dozens of companies including Google, Microsoft and Bank of America committed $1 million a piece. Hollywood stars, rap singers and tennis champions all immediately raised money themselves or lent their support to encourage donations to the relief effort.

The European Union was, at least initially, a bit more low-key.

The bloc of 27 countries has a foreign aid budget of nearly 8 billion euros ($11.4 billion), around 45 percent of which is allocated to humanitarian relief and development work. But 24 hours after the quake hit, with fears of up to 200,000 dead, the EU as an institution had promised only 3 million euros of "fast-track funding". Individual member states had made their own, generous bilateral pledges to Haiti, but the EU and its executive Commission was still battling to coordinate a unified response from the 27 member states as a whole.

Two days after the earthquake struck, the EU's newly appointed high representative for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, said  EU ministers would meet to discuss the situation. Over the weekend -- with bodies still being dug out of the rubble in Haiti -- the EU announced that ministers would discuss holding an international conference on Haiti during Monday's meeting, but didn't say when any such conference would take place or where, or what the aid funding target might be.

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