European Parliament strengthens EU disaster response capability

An upgrade of the EU’s civil defence mechanism, tested to its limits by 2017 and 2018 forest fires, storms and floods, received the support of the European Parliament on Tuesday, in Strasbourg.

The text was approved by 620 votes to 22 and 35 abstentions. It will come into force after the Council of Ministers’ final approval and be applicable by this summer.

The aim of the new legislation, informally agreed with Council in December, is to help member states to respond faster and more effectively to natural and man-made disasters, by sharing civil protection assets more efficiently.

The law also sets up, upon Parliament’s request, a RescEU reserve of resources, such as forest fire-fighting planes, high-capacity pumps, field hospitals and emergency medical teams, for use in all kinds of emergencies. RescEU will step in when the resources deployed by member states are not enough to respond to a disaster, following a decision by the European Commission.

During negotiations with EU officials, MEPs also succeeded in strengthening the new European Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network to facilitate more exchanges between all civil protection actors, in particular young professionals and volunteers.

Speaking to Cypriot journalists in Strasbourg, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, said that RescEU is tangible European solidarity.

We are making a big step so that Europe becomes more effective in addressing natural disasters both as in terms of operational means and on prevention and preparedness, he noted.

Lead MEP Elisabetta Gardini said that “we managed to work quickly to be ready before next summer and avoid another Greece 2018 and Portugal 2017. Effective means and tools were needed to save lives. Principles of solidarity and protecting the safety of our citizens guided the work to success.

Source: Cyprus News Agency