EU's €24m Gaza monitor does no monitoring

July 4, 2014

The most inactive European Union body in the Middle East is hiring.

By its own admission, EUBAM has not done its specified job for seven years: it is in charge of supervising a border - the crossing between Gaza and Egypt - that has been closed almost every day since June 2007.

Nevertheless, the European Union Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah Crossing Point is seeking a candidate who should "be able to prioritise and to work under pressure". So says the advertisement to find a translator and assistant to the head of mission.

And remarkably, the mandate of the mission - which to date has cost EU taxpayers more than 24 million euros - was renewed on Monday.

EUBAM's main office, where six of its eight staff work, is far from the inactive border - in Tel Aviv. A second office, with two employees, is in Gaza.

To date, the group has cost EU taxpayers more than 24 million euros

What do they do all day? Reached for comment, a EUBAM official, who asked not to be named, stressed that there is "a lot going on" and "enough work for these people to work full time". He insisted: "The fact that we are not redeploying on the Rafah border does not mean we are doing nothing."

The mission has to "liaise" with the parties involved in the dormant border crossing. It is supposed to "assist the Palestinian Authority with preparedness", in case the Ramallah-based leadership suddenly finds the crossing open again. And it needs to "keep on top of the logistics part of the mission, which is indispensable".

In the event that Israel ends its beef with Hamas and the border is opened, EUBAM aims to get the border running within a fortnight.

Far from being awkward about EUBAM, the official was proud of its efficiency.

It had, he pointed out, the lowest budget of all the Common Security and Defence Policy missions.

Last updated: 11:45am, July 4 2014