Brussels, 10 December 2013
New legislation to strengthen European policy on disaster management
What is the key idea behind the revised civil protection legislation?
A rising trend in natural and man-made disasters underlines the need for a well-coordinated European action, both in terms of response and also in terms of preparedness and prevention. The revised legislation aims at further improving cooperation and coordination to strengthen preparedness and provide for a fast and efficient response when a disaster strikes. This means better protection for EU citizens and affected communities worldwide. A well-coordinated response also means Member States do not duplicate assistance efforts and will improve cost efficiency while ensuring that assistance meets the needs of the affected people.
How will the new legislation improve disaster risk management?
The revised EU's Civil Protection legislation integrates all aspects needed for a comprehensive disaster management policy: disaster prevention, disaster preparedness and improved response arrangements. To promote a culture of risk prevention, the new legislation will require the Member States to share a summary of their risk assessments and to refine their risk management planning. To better prepare for disasters, 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), more exchanges of civil protection and prevention experts and closer cooperation with neighbouring countries. For a stronger and more efficient response, the legislation envisages the creation of a voluntary pool of Member States' assets (teams, equipment) available for immediate deployment as part of a joint European intervention.
How will the voluntary capacity be triggered?
Member States will remain responsible for their assets while the Commission's role will be to facilitate and co-ordinate deployment on the ground. For each emergency, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) will put together an immediate response plan, matching the capacities available from the voluntary pool with the needs on the ground. The ERCC will then call upon the Member States to deploy the needed capacities. The final decision to deploy will remain with Member States.
The new legislation also establishes the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC). What is the ERCC's role?
The 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) was inaugurated in May 2013. The ERCC monitors the situation around the world. It is an information and coordination hub during natural and man-made emergencies. Besides monitoring, the ERCC ensures that Member States are fully aware of the situation on the ground and can make informed decisions for providing financial and in-kind assistance. It also manages a pre-identified register of Member States' standard response assets which can be deployed immediately to any large scale emergency.
By merging the Crisis Room for humanitarian crises and the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) for civil protection, the ERCC provides for an increased cooperation between the civil protection and humanitarian aid operations. It offers a coordination platform for the EU in major crises.
What other changes and improvements does the new legislation bring?
The new legislation will come into force at the beginning of 2014. Together with the Member States, the Commission is currently elaborating the detailed implementing rules for the new legislation, to make sure that the new legislation can be applied in the most effective way by everybody.