The EU Commission presented new plans to strengthen Europe’s ability to deal with natural disasters, as a central part of President Juncker’s agenda of a Europe that protects. These plans factor in that extreme weather conditions and other phenomena are currently stretching the ability of Member States to help each other, especially when several Member States face the same type of disaster simultaneously. In such cases where there is limited or no availability of assets, the EU does not have a reserve capacity to assist overwhelmed Member States. Therefore, with today’s proposal an EU civil protection response reserve of civil protection assets will be established to assist Member States in responding to disasters, when national capacities are overwhelmed. rescEU will include assets, such as firefighting aircraft and water pumping equipment, which will complement national capacities. All costs and capacities of rescEU would be fully covered by EU financing, with the Commission retaining the operational control of these assets and deciding on their deployment.
In parallel, the Commission will assist Member States to boost their national capacities, by financing the adaptation, repair, transport and operation costs of their existing resources – whereas today only transportation costs are covered. The assets would become part of a shared pool of emergency response resources under the European Civil Protection Pool, and would be made available for deployment when disaster strikes.
Under today’s proposal, Member States will be asked to share their national prevention and preparedness strategies, in order to collectively identify and address possible gaps.
The proposal strengthens cooperation and coherence with existing EU policies dealing with prevention and preparedness. This includes for example the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, the European Structural and Investment Funds, the Solidarity Fund, environmental legislation (e.g. flood management plans and eco-system based solutions), research and innovation and policies to address serious cross-border threats to health and more. Finally, the proposal will streamline and simplify administrative procedures in order to reduce the time needed to deploy life-saving assistance.