EU member states on Monday (10 May) approved a strengthened EU Civil Protection Mechanism, with new rules to better prepare for emergencies like forest fires, and more resources allowing a faster response to new threats such as pandemics.
In a statement, the Council of the EU said the strengthened EU Civil Protection Mechanism now allows “member states to be better prepared for natural or man-made disasters and to respond more quickly when they occur, including in cases affecting most member states simultaneously, such as a pandemic”.
With this reinforcement, the Civil Protection Mechanism also becomes endowed with around €1.26 billion for the period 2021-2027, a significant increase compared to the €368.4 million allocated in the 2014-2020 EU budget.
Added to this is €2.05 billion mobilised by the Recovery Plan for Europe to “implement civil protection-related measures to respond to the impact of the crisis generated by COVID-19”.
The Mechanism will also allow the European Commission to “plug gaps in the area of transport and logistics” and, in cases of urgency and under certain conditions, to “directly purchase the necessary resources through ‘rescEU’,” the EU reserve to help disaster-stricken countries that includes aerial means of fire-fighting or medical transport, but also medical equipment and field hospitals.
Portugal’s internal administration minister, Eduardo Cabrita, reacted to the approval by the Council of the EU, calling the EU Civil Protection Mechanism an “emblem of EU solidarity” both “within European borders and abroad”. In 2020 alone, the mechanism was activated “102 times and provided support to 77 countries around the world,” he pointed out.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put it to the test and demonstrated that we need to go further. With the tripling of the budget and the new rules, we will be better prepared to foresee and respond to future crises, whatever their nature,” Cabrita stressed.
The reformed civil protection mechanism was approved by the European Parliament on 29 April, making its adoption definitive.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]