EU to strengthen natural disaster response

The Commission proposes strengthening the EU’s civil protection mechanism to assist European countries respond to floods, droughts, forest fires and terrorist attacks at home and abroad.

The Commission tabled on 27 January a new series of proposals to strengthen the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism set up in 2001 to co-ordinate countries’ responses to natural and man-made disasters.

The mechanism has recently been used to co-ordinate the EU response to forest fires in Portugal, floods in Central Europe, the Asian tsunami as well as hurricane Katrina in the US.

Proposed measures include a right for the Commission to hire planes or trucks to bring personnel and equipment to the site of a disaster when national transport infrastructure is insufficient. The Commission also proposes stepping up early warning systems and has launched an online bulletin, ‘MIC Daily’, connected to more than 50 existing real-time alert and news services around the globe.

The new proposals come on the heels of a new directive tabled by the Commission on 18 January to prevent and limit the damage caused by floods. The new directive would require member states to map out areas at risk of flooding and adopt flood risk management plans focussed on prevention, protection and preparedness.

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