A strengthened EU Civil Protection Mechanism endorsed by European Parliament

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Parliament has voted for strengthening the role of the European Union (EU) in crisis management through a legislative revision of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. This allows for faster and more effective European solidarity operations in response to large-scale emergencies or disasters that affect several countries at the same time. The EU will have at its disposal additional financial means for civil protection and will strengthen emergency tools such as the rescEU medical reserve of protective equipment. As a direct response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this boost to the EU Civil Protection will ensure that no EU Member State will face shortages of personal protective equipment in the future.

On this occasion, Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, said: “I welcome the European Parliament’s vote. Through this wide-ranging upgrade of the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, we will be equipped with additional tools to respond to new risks in Europe and in the world. The Mechanism will become more agile, more comprehensive and more fit-for-purpose in view of today’s challenges. When the next large-scale crisis strikes, the EU needs to have the tools to respond effectively, including during transboundary crises, affecting multiple Member States and several sectors at the same time. Reinforcing the EU’s crisis management system comes in direct response to the 27 Members States and the European Parliament’s request for a stronger EU role in emergencies, and strong public support for the EU to strengthen its disaster management”.

New EU Civil Protection features

Enhanced European response capacities for large-scale crises that overwhelm national response capacities via rescEU:

  • Enabling the Commission to directly procure emergency capacities in cases of urgency where national capacities are overwhelmed. For example, the procurement of equipment to deal with unforeseen emergencies.
  • Offering suitable modes of transport and logistic solutions to Member States, for example, to repatriate EU citizens stranded outside the Union to safety, and to transfer medical personnel, medical equipment and therapeutics. The EU finances transport and logistics at 100% rate as part of rescEU capacities.

A faster European coordination of disaster response: 

  • Strengthening EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre – the EU’s hub for crisis management – with enhanced operational, analytical, monitoring, information management and communication capabilities.

Better prevention and preparedness through:

  • Defining Union-wide resilience goals and scenario plans together with Member States;
  • Improving disaster loss data collection to support evidence-based scenario building.

Adequate financial support and greater flexibility to face the realities of an emergency:

  • A significantly enhanced budget with €1,26 (in current prices) billion foreseen under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and additional €2,05 (in current prices) billion through NextGenerationEU.
  • Reducing unnecessary procedures in responding to an emergency and enhancing the possibilities of managing and implementing the EU budget.

Eurobarometer – strong citizen support for EU civil protection

In the run-up to the adoption of this Regulation, the Commission gathered citizens’ opinions on EU civil protection in the 27 EU Member States. The survey  results show clear support for the EU’s role in crisis management, with 84% of Europeans agreeing that coordinated EU action should be increased to respond more effectively to future disasters and crises. More than 9 in 10 Europeans agree that their country should provide help when a disaster strikes in another EU country that is too big to deal with on their own, a clear sign of support for EU solidarity.

Background

A changing risk landscape in Europe and in the world calls for strengthened emergency management system. The lessons learnt resulting from the current pandemic emphasise, the need to better anticipate and prepare for the impacts of future emergencies that can quickly evolve into complex large-scale societal crises with multiple cascading effects in different areas. With climate change-induced disaster risks on the rise and evolving security threats, the EU is increasingly exposed to the threat of large-scale crises. In parallel, growing urbanisation, digitalisation and cross-sectoral interdependence exacerbate existing and create new vulnerabilities. Against this backdrop, the new Union Civil Protection Mechanism puts in place a more ambitious and wide-ranging crisis management system within the EU. 

The Commission proposed an updated legislation on 2 June 2020 and a final agreement by the legislators was reached in February 2021. This is followed by the formal adoption by the Parliament on 26 April 2021 and the Council on 10 May 2021. The Regulation is expected to enter into force in mid-May this year.

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