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Emergency Response Centre: for a faster and more efficient European response to disasters

Commission Européenne - IP/13/422   15/05/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 15 May 2013

Emergency Response Centre: for a faster and more efficient European response to disasters

The European Commission is launching its Emergency Response Centre (ERC) today, which will provide a better coordinated, faster and more efficient European response to disasters in Europe and the world.

"With the unfortunately increasing frequency and complexity of disasters, EU Member States need to cooperate even more closely. The new EU Emergency Response Centre provides a state of the art platform that allows them to coordinate under the most extreme circumstances, enables them to tackle these challenges even more effectively and thus helps to protect our citizens," said Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

"Experience shows that no country in the world is completely immune to disasters, no matter how well prepared it is," pointed out Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. "With the increasing frequency and complexity of disasters, making a coordinated and immediate response is an essential part of any life-saving action. We have established the Emergency Response Centre to enable the EU and its Member States to respond to overwhelming natural and man-made disasters in a more timely and efficient manner."

The ERC will be operational on a 24/7 basis, capable of dealing with up to three simultaneous emergencies in different time zones. It will receive and analyse appeals for assistance from affected countries and serve as a hub to support coordination at various levels: Commission, Member States, the affected country, humanitarian partners and civil protection teams deployed to the field.

The ERC will dispatch assessment and coordination experts to disaster areas, provide early warning about upcoming disasters, and facilitate the transport of Member States' assistance in response to major emergencies. This will ensure that European assistance is meeting priority needs on the disaster scene with no unnecessary and expensive duplication of efforts.

In addition, the ERC will step up the planning and preparation for EU civil protection operations, in close cooperation with the Member States. With new legislation soon to be in place, the 32 countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism can pre-commit some of their response capacities – such as specialised aircraft, heavy equipment or Search-and-Rescue Teams - to a voluntary pool, ready to be deployed at very short notice as part of a fully coordinated European response whenever the need arises.

The ERC will also support close coordination between the different Commission services involved in the response to emergencies where a multi-sectoral response is needed, and will regularly exchange information with the crisis centres of the EU's main international partners.

Background

The ERC is the new "operational heart" of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Beyond that it will play a key role as a coordination hub to facilitate a coherent European response during emergencies inside and outside Europe. Technical aspects of its creation were developed by Commission services in charge of building policy, under the authority of Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič. They transformed an area initially dedicated to technical functions, in order to avoid any net increase in Commission office space. Insulation work also enhanced the centre's energy efficiency.

The ERC has also been designed taking into account more than 10 years' experience in coordinating European disaster response. In 2001, the ERC’s predecessor, the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) was created as the main operational tool of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

The key goal of the Mechanism is to facilitate co-operation in civil protection assistance interventions in the event of major emergencies. Apart from the 27 EU Member States, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway participate in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The participating states pool resources that can be made available to disaster-hit countries and share best practices in disaster management.

For more information

MEMO/13/427 Q/A: The European Emergency Response Centre Opens

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 :

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)


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