Brussels, 14 May 2014
First anniversary of the Emergency Response Coordination Centre
Disaster management is needed now more than ever, as the frequency and intensity of natural and man-made disasters grow inexorably. On 15 May last year the European Commission launched the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC). For the European Union it marked a great step forward in guaranteeing a swifter and more predictable disaster response capacity, as well as providing much closer attention to prevention and preparedness.
Since start-up the ERCC has been activated more than 35 times during crises. On every occasion it has lived up to its purpose as an effective streamliner of rapid and coordinated response to emergencies inside and outside Europe.
Where has it helped?
The ERCC coordinated the delivery of European assistance in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful recorded cyclone to make landfall which struck the Philippines in November 2013. The ERCC organised the immediate deployment of a team of civil protection experts from the European Union to the Philippines and the delivery of life-preserving assistance, provided by EU Member States and pooled together through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. This coordination ensured that European aid met the most urgent needs of the affected people and was delivered swiftly and efficiently in an extremely complex and fast-changing situation.
During last year's summer the ERCC coordinated assistance to Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina when they were battling large-scale forest fires.
The ERCC was actively responding to the Syria crisis - the largest humanitarian emergency in the world. Jordan and Bulgaria requested support for sheltering and giving medical care to Syrian refugees. In response, the ERCC facilitated the delivery of vital materials ranging from ambulances to tent-heaters, blankets, hygiene parcels and kitchen sets offered by Member States to the countries which were coping with a surge in arriving refugees.
And the ERCC has also been very active in risk monitoring and analysis, providing Member States and countries hit by disasters with satellite imagery of affected areas. During the record floods which swamped Central Europe in May 2013 the ERCC produced 118 satellite maps, which helped national authorities track water flows and make the right decisions.
How does the ERCC contribute to a faster and more efficient joint response to disasters?
The ERCC is operational on a 24/7 basis and can deal with up to three simultaneous emergencies in different time zones. After receiving a request from an affected country or the United Nations it dispatches assessment and coordination experts to disaster areas and facilitates the transport of Member States' assistance in response to major emergencies.
In addition to the sharing of information and rapid emergency reaction, the ERCC also provides planning, monitoring, operational coordination and logistical support.
The Centre ensures a continuous exchange of information between civil protection and humanitarian aid authorities, providing real-time information on the assistance requested and the offers made by EU Member States and other participating countries. It also manages a pre-identified register of Member States' standard response assets which can be deployed immediately to any large scale emergency.
The ERCC supports close coordination between the European Commission services involved in responding to emergencies where a multi-sectoral response is needed (during environmental or energy-related emergencies, for example) and exchanges information with the crisis centres of the EU's main international partners.
Who benefits from the ERCC?
The ERCC provides a joint European response capacity within Europe and globally. By monitoring and assessing disasters, collecting requests for assistance and coordinating transport and aid delivery with partners, the ERCC serves not just the European Union's Member States and its citizens but vulnerable people everywhere, building global resilience.
How does the ERCC fit in to the EU's existing civil protection legislation?
The European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism legislation was revised in 2013 and gives protection from natural and man-made disasters. It addresses the whole disaster cycle: from prevention through risk assessment, preparedness and planning, to more coordinated and faster response actions.
It is the legal basis for the ERCC's work, placing it at the operational heart of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The ERCC supports and co-finances prevention and preparedness activities, from awareness-raising to field exercises and emergency simulations. Investing in risk prevention and preparedness before a disaster strikes pays significant dividends compared to facing the costs of relief, recovery and reconstruction afterwards.
For more information
The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:
Factsheet on the ERCC:
Factsheet on the EU civil protection legislation:
Commissioner Georgieva's website: