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European Commission - Press release

Revision of the EU Civil Protection legislation: delivering more effective disaster management

Brussels, 20 December 2011 – The European Commission today proposed legislation to strengthen European co-operation in civil protection which will provide a more efficient, effective and rapid response to disasters as well as enhanced prevention and preparedness actions. The proposals will allow Europe to move beyond the current system of ad hoc co-ordination to one where assistance is pre-planned and where delivery can be guaranteed wherever a disaster strikes.

"One of the key proposals is the establishment of a voluntary pool of Member States' specialised teams and equipment that will be available for immediate deployment as part of a collective European response," said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

"Equally important is that this legislation take Civil Protection policy beyond disaster response and places a much greater emphasis on disaster prevention and risk management. Our intention is that these proposals will lay the foundations of a comprehensive disaster management policy for the European Union".

To manage the new arrangements an Emergency Response Centre (ERC) will be established, providing a round-the-clock service delivering more effective EU co-ordination when disasters hit and ensuring that Member States remain fully informed at all times so as to improve the delivery of help.

The European Commission also wants to encourage greater co-operation on the advance planning of European disaster-response operations by, among other measures, mapping Member States' assets, drawing up contingency plans as well as improving risk-management planning. It will look at providing funding to fill any identified gaps and proposes to increase investment in joint training and cross-border exercises. Transport arrangements will also be streamlined to guarantee the immediate deployment of EU assistance.

The EU has two main instruments at its disposal to provide a first response to disasters: humanitarian aid and civil protection. The Treaty of Lisbon sets out that “the Union shall encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing and protecting against natural or man-made disasters.”

In October 2010 the Commission presented a plan "Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance", in which it outlined its vision for a faster and more efficient EU response to disasters. These suggestions have received the political support of the Member States and the European Parliament. Today's proposal for a revision of EU Civil Protection legislation builds on those ideas.

Background

The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates co-operation in disaster response among 31 European states (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The participating countries pool their resources which 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 its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated for disasters in Member States (like the forest fires in Portugal, floods in the Balkans in 2010 and explosion at a naval base in Cyprus in 2011) but also worldwide, including recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Japan.

For more information

MEMO/11/927Moving closer to more effective disaster management in Europe

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)


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