New Decision (EU) 2019/420 reshapes UCPM to allow the establishment of a proper “European Civil Protection Pool”

Following a new important Decision (2019/420 of 13 March 2019) and its related implementing tool (Decision 2019/1310 of 31 July 2019), the UCPM is being reshaped to allow the establishment of a proper “European Civil Protection Pool” of assets (including forest fire fighting planes, special water pumps, urban search and rescue teams, field hospitals and emergency medical teams), but also with the (still in process) creation of a ‘rescEU’ capacity, defined by the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides as a tool to ensure “effective” solidarity.

From an operational perspective, one of the most significant improvements in the wording of the new instrument concerns the deployment and demobilisation of such “rescEU” assets under the Mechanism, which ‘shall be taken by the Commission in close coordination with the requesting Member State and the Member State owning, renting or leasing the capacity, in accordance with [previously agreed] operational contracts”. Notably, the same instrument recognises the need to find the right balance between ‘national responsibility and solidarity among Member States’ through the acknowledged possibility to consider the operational costs of the deployment of RescEU capacities as “eligible for Union Financial Assistance”.

The Decision contains provisions foreseeing a coverage by the Commission of “at least 80% and no more than 90% of the total estimated costs necessary to ensure the availability and deployability of rescEU capacities under the Union Mechanism”. A further element of pan-European cohesion has also been introduced with regard to the deployment of rescEU capacities outside the Union, the operational costs of which should be borne by the Union budget “[f]or reasons related to solidarity among Member States”.