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Commission welcomes Parliament's vote in favour of better European cooperation against disasters

European Commission - IP/13/1231   10/12/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 10 December 2013

Commission welcomes Parliament's vote in favour of better European cooperation against disasters

The European Parliament today adopted new legislation on EU Civil Protection which paves the way for a stronger European cooperation in responding to disasters. The European Commission welcomes the vote on more efficient disaster management which will benefit both Europe's citizens and communities globally.

Welcoming today's vote, Kristalina Georgieva, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response said: "A rising trend in natural and man-made disasters over the past decade has demonstrated that coherent, efficient and effective policies on disaster risk management are needed now more than ever. This vote brings us a step closer to a predictable and reliable civil protection system at the European level. This can mean the difference between life and death when a disaster strikes. Equally important, the revised legislative proposal includes measures that will help to prevent and prepare better for the upcoming disasters. Successful disaster risk management is first and foremost about providing security to our citizens. I would like to thank the European Parliament for its strong support."

The revised legislation on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is designed to better protect and respond to natural and man-made disasters. It will increase the safety of EU citizens and disaster victims worldwide with provisions that ensure closer cooperation on disaster prevention, better preparedness and planning, and more coordinated and faster response actions.

To ensure better prevention, the Member States will regularly share a summary of their risk assessments, share best practices, and help each other identify where additional efforts are needed to reduce the disaster risks. A better understanding of risks is also the departure point for planning an effective response to major disasters.

In the area of disaster preparedness, there will be more training available for civil protection personnel operating outside their home countries, more exercising of civil protection response capacities (such as search and rescue teams and field hospitals) and their cooperation, more exchanges of civil protection and prevention experts and closer cooperation with neighbouring countries; all of which will improve the cooperation of Member States' teams on the ground.

The new 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) was inaugurated already in May 2013. It monitors the situation around the world and provides for an information and coordination hub during emergencies. Among other tasks, the ERCC also ensures that Member States are fully aware of the situation on-site and can make coherent and informed decisions for providing financial and in-kind assistance.

To progress beyond the current system of ad hoc offers of assistance, a voluntary pool of Member States' response capacities and experts on stand-by will be established allowing for crucial pre-planning, immediate deployment, and fully coordinated interventions. The EU will compensate parts of the costs for setting up the pool and also reimburse the transport of the assets and teams up to 85% of the costs.

The proposal also includes for the first time a common effort of Member States to assess if there are genuine gaps in response capacities all around Europe, and to address them with the help of EU's seed financing up to 20% of the costs of necessary investments. It also allows the EU to make standby arrangements to cover temporary shortcomings in major disasters.

By adopting this decision, the European Parliament converges with the views of Member States' on the need for stronger European civil protection cooperation. The vote in the Council will be passed in the coming days. The new legislation will come into force at the beginning of 2014.

Background

The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates co-operation in disaster response, preparedness, and prevention among 32 European states (EU-28 plus the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). With the help of the Commission, the participating countries keep each other informed of developments, needs on the ground, and voluntary offers of assistance and pool some of their resources, thus making them readily 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 Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC).

Since its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated over 180 times for disasters in Member States and worldwide, including recently in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, in November 2013, when a multitude of humanitarian assistance and relief items was donated and financial contributions exceeded €100 million.

For more information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

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

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

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

EU Civil Protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/thematic/civil_protection_en.pdf

EU Civil Protection Legislation:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/thematic/civil_protection_legislation_en.pdf

Emergency Response Coordination Centre:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/thematic/ERC_en.pdf

MEMO/13/1120: New legislation to strengthen European policy on disaster management

Contacts :

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)


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