EU Strengthens Civil Protection System to Address Disasters
Thursday, March 28, 2019 | Comments

A European Commission proposal to strengthen the EU's collective response to natural disasters, called rescEU, entered into force 21 March. The aim of the legislation is to help member states respond faster and more effectively to natural and man-made disasters by sharing civil protection assets more efficiently.

“There is a need for ongoing cooperation at local, regional and cross-border level with a view to establishing common alert systems for rapid intervention prior to the mobilization of rescEU, as well as regular public information campaigns on initial response measures,” said the decision, already published in the Journal of the European Union.

RescEU will step in when the resources deployed by member states are not enough to respond to a disaster. The commission will work with member states to ensure that investments undertaken with structural funds are "disaster proof,” meaning they will have to take into account the risk assessments that member states provide.

Overall, rescEU will include 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. To ensure that Europe is prepared for this year's forest fire season, the new legislation will include a transition phase during which participating states can get funding in exchange for putting their firefighting means at the disposal of the EU.

"With rescEU, we have put words into action,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. “We have delivered a practical tool for citizens that can save thousands of lives in the future. rescEU means having a much stronger, pan-European civil protection system. With the next forest fire season just a few months away, our EU emergency center is working around the clock with member states to make rescEU operational."

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