On March 21, the European Commission's proposal to strengthen the EU's collective response to natural disasters – rescEU - has entered into force.
According to the Decision, already published in the Journal of the European Union, “there is a need for on-going cooperation at local, regional and cross-border level with a view to establishing common alert systems for rapid intervention prior to the mobilisation of rescEU as well as regular public information campaigns on initial response measures.” The legal text also states that “in order to ensure a response that is both coordinated and rapid, decisions on deployment and demobilisation, and any decision in the event of conflicting requests, should be taken by the Commission in close coordination with the requesting Member State and the Member State owning, renting or leasing the rescEU capacities in question. The Commission and the Member State owning, renting or leasing the rescEU capacities should conclude operational contracts specifying the terms and conditions of deploying rescEU capacities.”
Overall, 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. 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 of putting their firefighting means at the disposal of the EU.
Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network
The decision includes a number of new provisions that will help Member States boost existing capacities and contribute more to the European Civil Protection Pool such as: co-financing 75% to upgrade their national capacities, co-financing the costs incurred for the deployment of assets, and the implementation of the European Union Civil Protection Network. The Commission will work with Member States to ensure that investments undertaken with Structural Funds are "disaster proof". This means that they will have to take into account the risk assessments that Member States provide.
Following the official adoption of rescEU, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "With rescEU, we have put words into action. 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. I am very grateful to our Member States in the Council of the EU and the European Parliament for their overwhelming support over the last months. With the next forest fire season just a few months away, our EU Emergency Centre is working around the clock with Member States to make rescEU operational."