France calls on EU for assistance with forest fires
Paris, 25 July 2017
France, having to cope with major fires, has called on the EU for assistance, by triggering the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Created in 2001, it makes it possible for countries to respond without having substantial resources of their own, thanks to its Emergency Response Coordination Centre, based in the Commission in Brussels and operational 24/7. It registers countries’ requests and answers them immediately by coordinating resources made available by states.
What is the EU Civil Protection Mechanism?
When the scale of an emergency situation is greater than the affected country’s national response capability, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism allows states taking part in it to organize coordinated assistance.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism may be activated for any kind of disaster. Some recent examples include the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (2014), the floods in the Western Balkans (2014), the conflict in eastern Ukraine (2015), the earthquake in Nepal (2015), the forest fires in Greece (2015) and Portugal (2017) and, of course, the European migration crisis (2015-2017).
The mechanism can also be activated during emergencies linked to marine pollution; it then works in close cooperation with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
All 28 EU member states are part of the mechanism, as are Iceland, Norway, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey.
Any country in the world can call on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The United Nations and its agencies, as well as some international organizations, can also make requests for assistance by this means.
The civil protection assistance provided to countries hit by disasters is made up of resources contributed by the participating countries and may take the form of material assistance, expertise, the dispatch of intervention teams or the delivery of specific equipment. Experts are also deployed on the ground under the mechanism to assess needs and ensure coordination with local authorities and international organizations, as well as conduct advisory missions to the countries affected in terms of prevention and preparation. When civil protection assistance is requested by third countries, it is generally combined with humanitarian aid.
The European legislation on civil protection, which dates from 2013, puts special emphasis on preparing for and preventing disasters, as well as assessing and planning risk management, at national level. To enable a swifter and more predictable response from the EU when disasters occur, the European Emergency Response Capacity (EERC) was created. It is a voluntary pool of pre-committed resources from the countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism./.