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Civil Protection Mechanism

The Community Civil Protection Mechanism supports and facilitates the mobilisation of emergency services to meet the immediate needs of countries hit by disaster or at risk from one. It improves the coordination of assistance interventions by defining the obligations of European Union (EU) countries and the Commission and by establishing certain bodies and procedures, such as the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC).

ACT

Council Decision 2007/779/EC, Euratom of 8 November 2007 establishing a Community Civil Protection Mechanism (recast).

SUMMARY

A cooperation mechanism is set up to improve the coordination of civil protection assistance intervention in major emergencies. Such cases may arise from a natural, technological, radiological or environmental disaster, including accidental marine pollution, or from a terrorist act, occurring or threatening to occur inside or outside the European Union (EU).

The mechanism is based on a series of elements and actions, including:

  • compiling an inventory of assistance and intervention teams available in EU countries;
  • establishing a training programme for members of such teams;
  • launching workshops, seminars and pilot projects on the main aspects of interventions;
  • setting up assessment and coordination teams;
  • establishing a Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) and a common communication and information system;
  • establishing a Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) between the MIC and EU countries’ contact points;
  • helping to develop detection and early warning systems;
  • facilitating access to equipment and transport by providing information on the resources available from EU countries and identifying resources available from other sources;
  • making additional transport resources available.

Preparing for emergencies

In order to establish this mechanism, EU countries must in particular:

  • identify the teams available for intervention within 12 hours following a request for assistance;
  • select experts who can be called upon to take part in an assessment or coordination team;
  • develop interoperable intervention modules employing the resources of one or more EU countries, which are able to carry out missions in case of emergencies;
  • examine the possibility of providing additional specialised assistance should a particular emergency occur;
  • provide all relevant information for setting up the mechanism, not later than six months after the adoption of this decision;
  • designate the competent authorities and contact points for implementing this decision.

Furthermore, if they so wish, EU countries may provide information on the availability of military resources in their response to requests for assistance.

For its part, the European Commission assumes responsibility for setting up and managing the MIC, the CECIS and the training programme for intervention teams. It will mobilise and send small teams of experts to the site of the emergency to assess the needs and, if necessary, to help coordinate operations there. It will also introduce a programme of lessons learned from interventions and disseminate these lessons throughout the information system, as well as collect and centralise information on national medical resource availability.

Information on the national civil protection capabilities available for assistance interventions is compiled in a database. This includes the contents of the military database, compiled by the EU Military Staff (EUMS), giving it a broad picture of all resources available to manage the consequences of disasters.

Responding to emergencies

The operational heart of the mechanism is the MIC, which is based at the European Commission in Brussels. Through the MIC, which is accessible 24 hours a day, the Commission can facilitate the mobilisation of civil protection resources from EU countries in the event of an emergency.

Any participating country affected by or at risk of being affected by a major disaster – inside or outside the EU – can request assistance from an EU country directly or through the MIC. The MIC then immediately forwards the request to the network of national contact points. They inform the MIC whether they are in a position to offer assistance. The MIC then compiles the responses and informs the requesting country of the available assistance. The affected country selects the assistance it needs and establishes contact with the assisting countries. The MIC can also offer technical support, including improved access to satellite images, and acts as an information centre, collecting data and distributing regular updates to all participating countries.

While the requesting country is responsible for supervising the assistance operations, it is up to the country offering the assistance to appoint someone responsible for the implementation details of the operation. The requesting country can delegate the supervision of the operations to the intervention teams who must then coordinate their actions, if necessary with the support of the experts from the assessment and/or coordination teams.

In the case of an assistance intervention in a non-EU country, the Council Presidency is responsible for the political and strategic coordination of the operations, while the Commission retains its role as operational coordinator. Operational coordination involves in particular the task of facilitating dialogue and contact with the national contact points, the non-EU country affected and other relevant actors such as the services of the United Nations (UN). In addition, the UN is responsible for overall coordination of the operations when it is providing services at the scene of the emergency.

Candidate countries for EU accession and non-EU countries can participate in the mechanism. Today, 30 countries – the EU-27, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – participate in the mechanism, which is funded on a year-by-year basis.

The Commission submits a report on the implementation of this decision every three years.

Background

In January 2006, the Commission proposed to reinforce the existing European Civil Protection Mechanism on the basis of past experience and to provide a suitable legal basis for future action in this area. This reinforcement is designed to deal with the increase in frequency and seriousness of natural and man-made disasters.

This cooperation instrument, resulting from the above Commission proposal, replaces the mechanism for assistance interventions established by Council Decision 2001/792/EC, Euratom, repealed by this decision.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2007/779/EC, Euratom

8.11.2007

-

OJ L 314 of 1.12.2007

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision 2007/162/EC, Euratom of 5 March 2007 establishing a Civil Protection Financial Instrument [Official Journal L 71 of 10.3.2007].
The EU has an instrument that enables it to fund activities aimed at preventive action, preparedness and an effective response, particularly those carried out under the existing mechanism. This financial instrument covers the 2007-13 period and replaces the Community action programme in favour of civil protection, established by Council Decision 1999/847/EC.

Commission Decision 2004/277/EC, Euratom of 29 December 2003 laying down rules for the implementation of Council Decision 2001/792/EC, Euratom establishing a Community mechanism to facilitate reinforced cooperation in civil protection assistance interventions [Official Journal L 87 of 25.3.2004].

Council Resolution of 22 December 2003 on strengthening Community cooperation in the field of civil protection research [Official Journal C 8 of 13.1.2004].
The Council encourages the development of research projects on the reduction of natural and technological risks and on mitigating their consequences. It also encourages research institutes and other relevant entities to establish common objectives for preventing and reacting to natural or technological risks.

Council Resolution of 19 December 2002 on special civil protection assistance to outermost and isolated regions, to insular regions, to regions which are not easily accessible, and to sparsely populated regions, in the European Union [Official Journal C 24 of 31.1.2003].
The Council considers that outermost, isolated, distant insular and sparsely populated regions should benefit from measures suited to their individual situations. In particular, it encourages joint projects between regions with similar characteristics and the taking into consideration of these characteristics when planning responses to emergency situations, setting up specialised intervention teams and developing effective, reliable and adapted communication systems.

Council Resolution of 28 January 2002 on reinforcing cooperation in the field of civil protection training [Official Journal C 43 of 16.2.2002].
The Council invites the Commission to look at any initiatives supporting the creation of a network of schools and training centres active in the field of civil protection and to give financial support to this initiative and involve the candidate countries in its work. The Commission is also invited to consider the possibility of creating a European civil protection college to perpetuate such cooperation.

Last updated: 18.08.2010
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