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Civil protection: Council adopts new rules to strengthen support in case of disasters

Met dank overgenomen van Raad van de Europese Unie (Raad), gepubliceerd op donderdag 7 maart 2019.

The EU is strengthening its civil protection capacities in order to enhance risk prevention and provide timely support to member states and other participating countries whenever there is a natural or man-made disaster.

The Council today adopted a decision to amend the EU civil protection mechanism. The act foresees the setting-up of an additional pool of resources, rescEU, to provide assistance in situations where overall existing capacities are insufficient. rescEU will include in particular aerial means to combat forest fires, as well as resources to respond to medical emergencies and to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents. The decision will also strengthen the existing voluntary pool of national capacities.

Since 2001, the EU civil protection mechanism has been activated more than 300 times, providing additional support to countries facing all kinds of emergencies and helping protect the citizens affected by them. With these updated rules, we will be better equipped to provide assistance more quickly, making sure help arrives on time even when we are having to respond to multiple disasters simultaneously.

Carmen Daniela Dan, Romanian minister of internal affairs

Under the new rules, risk prevention will be improved, by requiring member states to further develop their assessment of their risk management capability, and their risk management planning. Training and knowledge-sharing will also be boosted. The Commission will be tasked with establishing an EU civil protection knowledge network of those involved in civil protection and disaster management.

Next steps

The decision will be formally signed by the Council and the European Parliament next week. The signed text will then be published in the EU Official Journal and will enter into force the following day.

Background

The EU civil protection mechanism was established in 2001. It has helped improve cooperation between the member states, and facilitates wider coordination in the area of civil protection. Any country in the world, as well as the United Nations and relevant international organisations may request assistance through this mechanism in the event of a disaster.

However, recent experience has shown that reliance on voluntary offers of mutual assistance coordinated and facilitated by the mechanism does not always ensure that the capacities made available in the event of a disaster are sufficient. This is particularly the case where member states are simultaneously affected by the same type of disasters.

The European Commission presented a proposal in November 2017 to address these shortcomings.

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