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European Commission - Press release

A test for European Civil Protection skills: Commissioner Georgieva visits Poland for Carpathex 2011

Brussels, 15 September 2011 – Emergency teams saving the lives of football fans after a crash between their train and another loaded with hazardous chemical waste is one of the exercises being observed by Commissioner Georgieva tomorrow during the culmination of Carpathex 2011 in Poland.

The simulated accident is designed to test emergency response capabilities during high profile events such as next year's UEFA European Football Championship, EURO 2012.

The European Civil Protection exercise is taking place in the Podkarpadskie Region of Poland. "The exercise is an excellent tool to improve the coordination of Civil Protection resources available on the European level and to test and further improve the cooperation of Member States with the EU Civil Protection Mechanism," said the Commissioner for International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

"Sharing of best practices and a common understanding of cooperation in Civil Protection assistance interventions is crucial for a quick and efficient response to crises and disasters both within the EU and outside of it," she added.

Under the scenario the Polish authorities' emergency services issue a request for assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Cooperation between teams from participating Member States will be measured and tested.

Joining the emergency service teams from Poland in Carpathex 2011, which runs from 12-16 September, are CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) units from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine as well as the EU Civil Protection Team. The exercise is receiving funding of 266,000 euros from the European Union.

Other scenarios being played out this week at the event include tackling a forest fire caused by sparks coming from the breaks system of the train; a village flooded by a broken reservoir system and explosions in a chemical plant which results in the leakage of highly toxic substances.


EU Civil Protection Mechanism

The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 31 European states (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC).

Since 2001, the CPM has reacted to more than a hundred disasters worldwide, among them Hurricane Katrina in the USA (2005), earthquake in China (2008) and Italy (2009), earthquake in Haiti (2010) and earthquake/tsunami in Japan (2011).

Civil Protection exercises

Simulation exercises organised at EU level are designed primarily as field tests aiming at establishing a common understanding of cooperation in Civil Protection assistance interventions and to accelerate response in major emergencies. These exercises provide a learning opportunity for all actors involved in operations under the Mechanism and enhance operational cooperation between them. Contingency planning, decision-making procedures, provision of information to the public and the media can also be tested and rehearsed during these events, so as to be better prepared for similar real-life situations. Moreover, exercises can help supervisors identify further training needs for their staff involved in operations, while lessons-learnt workshops organised in parallel can serve as a forum to identify operational gaps to be improved.

Exercises at Community level are organised by the participating countries in the Mechanism with a financial contribution from the Commission. The calls outlining the conditions of these projects are published each year.

For more information

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

The European Commission's humanitarian aid:

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

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