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Preventive alert against emergencies
Improving cooperation between Member States on the evaluation of risks, alerts and intervention and the storage of such means in the event of terrorist attacks and other possible emergencies.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 November 2001, Civil Protection - State of preventive alert against possible emergencies [COM(2001)707 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
Following the tragic terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, public authorities throughout the world reviewed their readiness to respond in the event of such an attack. The European Union studied the question, and the European Council in Ghent (October 2001) asked the Commission to draw up an action programme on the subject.
This Communication meets this request and outlines action designed to improve cooperation among Member States on the evaluation of risks, alerts and intervention and the storage of such means, and in the field of research. The programme meets the need to identify infectious and toxic agents, to prevent chemical, nuclear or biological attacks, and to provide treatment when necessary.
The Commission has created a platform for coordinating the resources, services and networks available for civil protection, health protection and research so as to be able to respond to any emergencies.
Civil protection resources
A Community Mechanism designed to strengthen cooperation with regard to civil protection intervention in emergencies will be operational in 2002.
An action programme has been adopted to respond to the consequences of any nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. This programme includes:
- setting up a monitoring and information centre, which was launched on 29 October 2001;
- gathering information on nuclear, biological and chemical expertise and on serums and vaccines.
Health protection resources
Since 1998 the Community has had a network for epidemiological surveillance and the control of communicable diseases.
Moreover, European health ministers have asked the Commission to develop an action programme based on the following components:
- a mechanism for coordination and deployment of joint investigation teams to deal with bio-terrorist risks;
- a mechanism for information on the capabilities of preventing and fighting bio-terrorism and the availability of serums, antibiotics and vaccines;
- a European network of experts responsible for evaluating, managing and communicating risks;
- development of vaccines, medicines and treatments.
A list of possible pathogens and available treatments has been compiled with the cooperation of the European Medicines Agency.
The Commission's Joint Research Centre has highly advanced scientific expertise in the nuclear, chemical and biological fields.
A Global Monitoring System for Environment and Security (GMES) has been adopted by the Commission, giving the EU autonomous and operational capability in this area. The civil protection authorities will be among the first to use the system.
The Commission will appoint a European coordinator responsible for monitoring and coordinating the initiatives set out in this Communication. The coordinator will be responsible, in particular, for the management of the Community mechanism for coordinating action in civil protection.