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EU: Political Agreement Towards a Reform of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism

The most relevant development of European Union (EU) disaster law occurred in 2018 is represented by the provisional agreement reached in December between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to revise the Decision establishing the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). Such an agreement opened the door to a significant
reshaping of the EU cooperation in the civil protection domain, which showed, after some years passed since the Lisbon reform, some major shortcomings.

At the basis of this agreement is the idea that rescEU capacities shall be established to provide assistance in overwhelming situations where overall existing capacities at national level and those pre-committed by member States to the European Emergency Response Capacity are not able to ensure an effective response. RescEU is thus conceived, in the agreement reached among the two political institutions, as a last resort tool “within the UCPM” and to be triggered only when the other capacities available at national and EU level are not sufficient to deal with the disaster scenario.

Having clarified this, the agreement also sheds some light on the allocation of competences between the member States and the Commission. It is indeed for the member States to acquire, rent or lease rescEU capacities, thereby benefiting from the financial support awarded by the Commission. The capacities are hosted by the member States acquiring, renting or leasing them. Moreover, such States are responsible for directing the response operations (inside the Union) and for ensuring that rescEU capacities are fully integrated into the overall response (outside
the Union). As for the Commission, it is in charge of: (a) defining the quality requirements of capacities; (b) deciding their deployment and demobilization; (c) facilitating the coordination of rescEU capacities with other assets deployed under the Mechanism.