France: The European Union (EU) proposed a new approach to managing resources for internal and external disasters and emergency response. It would include the use of maps that detail the location of resources and aid in identifying ways to achieve more rapid response.
To achieve this, the European Commission outlined a twin-track approach: first, it proposes that a European Emergency Response Capacity is set up, based on Member States’ expertise and assets; and second, a European Emergency Response Centre will be the new platform for more effective EU coordination whenever disasters strike. This centre, which will merge the humanitarian aid (ECHO) and civil protection (MIC) crisis rooms, will collect real-time information on disasters, monitor hazards, alert member states, and coordinate the EU’s disaster response actions.
Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said, “The world is changing and the number of disasters worldwide has risen fivefold since 1975. In a situation where every hour counts the European Union needs a system that guarantees the availability of key assets for immediate deployment. We can not afford to wait for the next mega disaster before we take action.”
Improved EU capacity in this area has multiple benefits – most importantly, saving lives and helping recovery. In addition, the proposals aim to reinforce the Union’s input in the overall coordination in post-disaster situations, carried out by the United Nations. The strategy also identifies the need for increased visibility of the work done by the EU in its disaster response operations.
The European Union has had two main instruments to provide a first response to disasters – humanitarian assistance and civil protection. Both have been placed on new legal basis by the Treaty of Lisbon. Legislative proposals will be made in 2011 to implement the key proposals that are made in the Communication.