Tag Archives: Natural disaster

The European Union Solidarity Fund

The European Union Solidarity Fund

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The European Union Solidarity Fund

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Provisions and instruments of regional policy

The European Union Solidarity Fund

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 of 11 November 2002 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund.

Summary

The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was established in order to deal with major national disasters. It provides financial assistance to disaster-stricken States.

This Regulation establishes the rules and principles relating to intervention by the EUSF. In particular, it defines the conditions for applying for assistance from the EUSF, as well as the procedure to be followed. The Regulation also clarifies the means for implementing the grants accorded by the EUSF.

Conditions for intervention

The Solidarity Fund intervenes mainly in cases of major natural disasters with serious repercussions on living conditions, the natural environment or the economy in one or more regions of a Member State or a country applying for accession to the European Union (EU).

A natural disaster is considered as ‘major’ if it results in damage on the State’s territory estimated either at over EUR 3 billion (2002 prices), or at more than 0.6 % of its gross national income.

In exceptional circumstances, the Fund may also be mobilised for “regional” disasters where a region experiences a disaster which affects the majority of its population, with serious and lasting repercussions on living conditions and economic stability. Regions may also receive funds even when the applicable national threshold has not been reached. For these specific cases, the annual amount available is limited to no more than 7.5 % of the annual amount allocated to the Solidarity Fund (i.e. EUR 75 million). Particular attention is paid to remote and isolated regions, for example the outermost and island regions.

The EUSF may also be mobilised when a major disaster affects a neighbouring eligible State, even if the normal intervention threshold for that neighbour State has not been reached.

Objectives

The objective of assistance from the Fund is to complement the public efforts of the beneficiary State. Intended to finance measures alleviating non-insurable damage in principle, the urgent actions eligible for the Fund are the following:

  • Immediate restoration to working order of infrastructure and plant in the fields of energy, drinking water, waste water, telecommunications, transport, health and education;
  • Providing temporary accommodation and funding rescue services to meet the immediate needs of the population concerned;
  • Immediate securing of preventive infrastructures and measures of immediate protection of the cultural heritage;
  • Immediate cleaning up of disaster-stricken areas, including natural zones.

Procedure for applying for assistance

No later than ten weeks after the first damage caused by the disaster, the State affected should submit an application to the Commission for assistance from the Fund. It should provide all possible information on the damage caused by the disaster and its impact on the population and the economy. It must estimate the cost of the foreseen assistance and indicate any other sources of national, European and/or international funding.

On the basis of the information provided by the affected State, the Commission will decide if the mobilisation of the EUSF may be proposed to the budgetary authority (the European Parliament and the Council), which authorises the corresponding appropriations, on a case-by-case basis. Once the appropriations are available in the European budget, the Commission concludes an Agreement on implementation with the beneficiary State and accords a grant to be paid immediately and in a single instalment.

If the final estimation of the damage is substantially lower than the first forecasts on the basis of which the State demanded the grant, the Commission will ask for the reimbursement of the difference.

Implementing the grants accorded

The beneficiary State is responsible for the implementation of the grant and, where applicable, for the co-ordination with other European funds in order to ensure their complementarity. Double financing of the actions undertaken by the EUSF through the means of the Structural Funds is, however, not possible.

The grant must be used within one year of the date on which it has been disbursed. The beneficiary State must reimburse any part of the grant remaining unused. Six months after the expiry of this period, it is to present a report on the financial execution to the Commission. This document should detail the expenditure eligible for the Solidarity Fund as well as all other funding received, including insurance settlements and compensation from third parties.

On 1 October each year, at least one-quarter of the annual amount allocated to the Solidarity Fund should remain available in order to cover needs arising at the end of the year. In exceptional cases and if the remaining financial resources of the Fund prove insufficient, the Commission may decide to use part of the amount foreseen for the following year.

Final Provisions

Before 1 July each year, the Commission is to present a report on the activity of the Solidarity Fund.

Context

The EU’s Solidarity Fund was established following the floods which affected Central Europe during the summer of 2002. Ever since, it has intervened to deal with many different types of natural disasters, such as floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and droughts.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002

15.11.2002

OJ L 311, 14.11.2002

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 23 March 2011 – European Union Solidarity Fund Annual Report 2009 [COM(2011) 136 – OJ C 140 of 11.05.2011].

The L’Aquila earthquake in the Italian Abruzzo region was the largest natural disaster that the EUSF had to deal with since it was created. The amount of assistance reached almost half a billion euros, therefore constituting the most significant assistance ever provided by the Fund. The Commission states that the time period in which the assistance was provided is satisfactory, just over five months from the submission date of the application.
Furthermore, 2009 also highlighted the difficulties in activating the EUSF in cases of slowly unfolding disasters, such as the drought, for example. The Commission therefore recommends introducing a specific provision for these types of disasters.

Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management [Official Journal C 139 of 14.6.2006].

ECHO Annual Report 2009

ECHO Annual Report 2009

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about ECHO Annual Report 2009

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Humanitarian aid

ECHO Annual Report 2009

Document or Iniciative

Annual Report of 9 April 2010 on Humanitarian Aid Policy and its Implementation in 2009 [COM(2010) 138 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Humanitarian crises are increasingly frequent and complex, due to the growing number of:

  • refugees and displaced persons following conflicts;
  • natural disasters related to climate change;
  • persons made vulnerable by the economic crisis.

During 2009, 115 million persons benefited from European humanitarian aid. The budget initially planned had to be increased twice, using the ECHO emergency aid reserve. The EDF budget was also used to assist ACP countries.

Key operations

The number of natural disasters is rising. They are mainly weather-related. In response, ECHO leads emergency operations and also disaster preparedness actions in the most vulnerable areas.

In 2009, interventions concerned:

  • floods in Afghanistan, India, Tajikistan and West Africa;
  • cyclones, tropical storms and hurricanes in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Philippines, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Fiji and Papua New Guinea;
  • droughts in the Greater Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Madagascar, the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Arab Republic;
  • earthquakes in Indonesia;
  • epidemics in West Africa, Southern Africa and Papua New Guinea;
  • crop failures in Uganda, Laos and Bangladesh.

“Man-made” crises led to:

  • population displacement following conflicts in Sri Lanka, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan;
  • an increase in the need for basic essentials particularly in terms of health, food and water/sanitation in the Gaza Strip, following the attack by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF);
  • an increase in population vulnerability in Afghanistan and Somalia due to a deterioration in safety conditions, drought and soaring food prices.

Most funding was allocated to the Sudan due to the Darfur crisis which led to the displacement of more than 6.5 million persons; and to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where almost 3 million persons were displaced due to border conflicts.

The report highlights the bad working conditions of humanitarian workers who are increasingly restricted by the authorities of certain countries, violations of human rights, as well as attacks and hostage-taking in conflict zones.

However, the humanitarian situation has improved in certain countries. This is the case in North-Uganda where the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan was implemented in 2009. Zimbabwe also made progress in terms of health services, water supply, liberalisation of the economy, agriculture and employment. Finally, in Sri Lanka, many of the persons displaced following conflict have been able to return to their places of origin.

Political and institutional developments

A Working Group has been created within the Council, to deal with humanitarian aid and food aid (COHAFA). It should facilitate the implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.

The Commission has also established close working relationships with the new Committee on Development (DEVE) which has been elected within the new European Parliament.

Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Humanitarian aid

Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)

Since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has had an exceptional shared competence in the area of humanitarian action, i.e. it has the power to conduct operations and a European policy in addition to those of the Member States. The Commission ensures the smooth coordination of action at European and national level.

Humanitarian aid

Humanitarian aid is specifically intended for developing countries. It is implemented via the instrument for humanitarian aid which finances emergency operations, in particular with the aim to:

  • provide assistance, relief and protection for the local population;
  • provide food aid and assistance to displaced persons;
  • support disaster preparedness and crisis rehabilitation actions.

These operations are conducted depending on the needs and interests of the victims, in accordance with international law and the principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination laid down by the European Consensus on humanitarian aid.

ECHO intervenes in partnership with organisations that have signed a framework partnership agreement with the Commission, such as the specialised agencies of the United Nations, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and numerous non-governmental organisations.

Civil protection

ECHO also intervenes in the event of natural or man-made disasters (earthquakes, floods, industrial accidents, etc.) occurring in the EU. Its action is implemented via the Civil Protection Financial Instrument in response to requests for assistance from the countries affected.

The EU’s action involves encouraging cooperation between national civil protection services, principally with the aim of:

  • supplementing and supporting Member States’ prevention, preparedness and response activities;
  • faciliting rapid operational cooperation between Member States.

The EU can also conduct civil protection operations in non-Member States, more specifically with the accession candidate countries and the Mediterranean partner countries.

Context

The EU is one of the world’s biggest providers of humanitarian aid funding. Since 1992, operations directed by ECHO have channelled aid to regions in crisis in more than 85 countries.

2001 report on ECHO

2001 report on ECHO

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about 2001 report on ECHO

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Humanitarian aid

2001 report on ECHO

To assess the activity of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) in 2001.

2) Document or Iniciative

Report from the Commission- Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) – Annual Report 2001 [COM(2002)322 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

This report is published in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 concerning humanitarian aid. This stipulates that after each budget year, the Commission must submit an annual report to the European Parliament and the Council on the measures financed during the year.

The report states that in 2001, ECHO made significant progress, particularly with respect to its role in the linking of relief, rehabilitation and development, improving its relations with the United Nations and implementing its administrative reform.

As outlined in the Communication on linking relief, rehabilitation and development, adopted in April 2001, ECHO will focus more clearly on its core mandate, i.e. providing immediate life-saving relief in emergencies. A working paper setting out the criteria for the phase-out of humanitarian assistance and the hand-over to development cooperation was drawn up by the Commission.

ECHO developed a methodology to better define forgotten crises and unstable post-crisis situations. This methodology is based on an analysis of media reporting and coverage of needs through other donors. The crises thus identified in 2001 through this new tool were Angola, Western Sahara and Chechnya and they were allocated considerable funding.

ECHO’s methodology for assessing humanitarian needs was also improved in 2001. With this tool, ECHO has been able to demonstrate that its operations focus on the areas of greatest need.

With regard to its administrative reform, ECHO concentrated on restructuring its internal organisation and working methods, and developing instruments to measure and improve its results. Thus, in June 2001, a fast-track decision-making procedure was adopted, enabling ECHO to approve urgent projects within 24 to 72 hours.

In the course of 2001, a web-based crises information system was developed, which provides daily updates. A new local information system is being studied.

Operations carried out by ECHO

The global trend towards more frequent and more damaging disasters continues. The most important events in 2001 were: the earthquakes in El Salvador and India, the floods in India and the droughts in Central Asia. The global situation concerning man-made disasters remains very poor. It is estimated that 2.2 million people were killed in conflicts since 1991. The number of wars and violent crises is increasing and totalled 38 at the end of 2001.

ECHO allocated EUR 543.7 million to humanitarian crises in 2001. It signed 1 031 operation contracts and its aid funded projects in over 60 countries.

This report reviews the aid granted to the various parts of the world and their situation from a humanitarian point of view. The African, Caribbean and Pacific region was the largest recipient of funds in 2001 (EUR 173 320 million). The funds allocated to the Balkans were lower than the previous year due to the stabilisation in the region. However, the aid allocated to Asia increased. The Palestinian territories once again remained one of the major spheres of ECHO’s intervention.

In 2001, the Humanitarian Aid Office implemented two action plans under the DIPECHO programme (disaster preparedness activities within a regional framework): one in South-East Asia and one in Central America. The programme was extended to South Asia.

Cross-cutting issues

In 2001, ECHO signed the Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) with 27 new partners. The operation of the FPA was revised, taking account of the quality of aid.

Throughout 2001, ECHO granted EUR 1.6 million for the programme to subsidise initiatives on training, studies and networks in the humanitarian field.

In 2001, ECHO’s new information and communication strategy, adopted in 2000, was first implemented. It aims to define target audiences more clearly, develop the use of the Internet, define more structured objectives and establish closer links between ECHO headquarters and field offices. This approach was reflected in an EU-wide opinion poll aimed at gauging the level of public knowledge of ECHO and humanitarian issues. The poll revealed considerable support for the principle of humanitarian assistance but relatively low recognition levels for the role played by ECHO and a desire for more information on this issue.

In 2001, the rate of budget implementation in terms of commitment appropriations was 100% and 90.5% in terms of payment appropriations.

Outlook and perspectives

There are three major humanitarian challenges in the world: the persistence of protracted man-made crises; emerging crisis theatres in areas considered more or less stable in the past; and increasingly adverse effects of natural disasters.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Overhaul for EU Solidarity Fund

Overhaul for EU Solidarity Fund

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Overhaul for EU Solidarity Fund

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Provisions and instruments of regional policy

Overhaul for EU Solidarity Fund

Proposal

Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Regulation of 6 April 2005 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund [COM(2005) 108 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Regulation proposed by the Commission aims to equip the EU to respond appropriately to a range of major disasters, including public health emergencies. Set to enter into force in January 2007, it will replace the legislation governing the current version of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) (Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002).

The fund will now be able to channel emergency financial assistance to Member States and those countries currently negotiating EU membership. The use of the Fund to assist countries that are not (yet) Member States is based on a specific provision in the Treaty of Nice governing economic and financial cooperation with non-EU countries.

Scope of the Fund

The EU will provide financial assistance in cases where the extent of the damage caused by a disaster is such that it hampers a country’s ability to respond effectively.

The current Regulation proposal broadens the scope of EUSF assistance, which has so far been limited to natural disasters. From now on, the EU will also be able to react to industrial and technological disasters, public health emergencies and acts of terrorism.

The extent of a disaster will be determined according to:

  • a quantitative criterion, when the amount of direct damage is estimated to be either 1 billion or more (in 2007) or 0.5 % of the affected country’s gross national income. This new threshold makes more cases eligible for aid from the Fund. Regional and local disasters causing damage at a level below this threshold are the responsibility of the Member State concerned, although they may be eligible for assistance from other Community funds;
  • a political criterion, which will allow the Commission to propose the Fund be used for emergencies in cases where the material damage alone would not normally qualify for assistance. This is particularly useful for dealing with the consequences of acts of terrorism and epidemics.

Having a single fund focussing solely on large-scale disasters will ensure the aid is as effective as possible.

Emergency assistance

EUSF aid will be granted to finance emergency measures by public authorities or bodies in Member States.

These include:

  • restoring essential infrastructure for power generation, water supplies and sewage, telecommunications, transport, health and education;
  • immediate medical assistance and measures to protect against imminent health threats, mainly by providing drugs, medical products and vaccines;
  • providing temporary accommodation and immediate disaster-relief measures for victims;
  • setting up emergency preventive systems;
  • emergency measures to protect the local culture and environment;
  • emergency clean-up operations in the disaster area;
  • medical, psychological and social assistance for direct victims of terrorism and their families

To receive aid, eligible countries must send a request to the Commission within ten weeks of the disaster.

The Commission will determine the appropriate amount of aid, which can never be more than 50 % of the total cost of the eligible operations, and ask the budgetary authority to release these funds. They can be paid as soon as the amounts have been entered in the Community budget and an implementation agreement concluded between the beneficiary country and the Commission.

There is also a new fast-track relief mechanism by which an advance of 5 % of the estimated amount (no more than EUR 5 million) can be paid for the most urgent measures.

Before 1 July every year, the Commission will present a report to the Parliament and the Council setting out the activities of the Solidarity Fund.

References And Procedure

Proposal Official Journal Procedure

COM (2005) 108

Codecision COD/2005/0033

Prevention of natural or man-made disasters in the European Union

Prevention of natural or man-made disasters in the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Prevention of natural or man-made disasters in the European Union

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Civil protection

Prevention of natural or man-made disasters in the European Union

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 23 February 2009 – A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man made disasters [COM(2009) 82 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Community territory is affected by natural or man-made disasters, the number and impact of which is rising. This increasing vulnerability is caused in particular by the effects of climate change and by urban and industrial development.

The strategy is part of a set of instruments with both an external and an internal dimension. It does not cover emergencies related to conflicts or acts of terrorism.

The measures taken regarding disaster prevention are mainly at national level. Disaster prevention should nevertheless be approached at European level, since hazards often have cross-border impact and effects on the growth and competitiveness of the European Union (EU).

A Community approach should enhance the effectiveness of prevention action by adding to national actions in certain areas. This strategy is therefore based on three main themes:

  • Developing existing knowledge, so as to improve the effectiveness of prevention policies.

The Commission should facilitate the production of information and its comparability with regard to disaster factors. It will carry out an inventory of information sources and best practices, and dissemination of best practices in risk management procedures (land use planning, emergency plans, etc.). Risk areas should be mapped according to guidelines prepared at European level.

The 7th Research and Development Framework Programme (RDFP) supports the coordination of research activities and the dissemination of information on disaster risks.

  • Extending cooperation of actors involved in disaster management.

Prevention, preparedness, response and recovery activities should be based on coordinated mechanisms involving public and private actors. The creation of a network of those responsible at national level and specialists should serve to improve the coordination of Community, national and regional measures.

Links between detection and early warning systems should be developed, including in cooperation with Mediterranean third countries. The Commission must further develop the evaluation of the Civil Protection Mechanismand training will be carried out within the framework of the civil protection programme. Citizens should be better informed about prevention measures, as well as the existence of the emergency number 112 (pdf ).

  • Targeting legislative and financial instruments for prevention action.

Within the framework of the 2007-2013 budget, the Commission should identify the Community instruments which could finance prevention measures (for example in the areas of rural development, civil protection, environmental protection, research and information and communication technologies). If necessary, the Commission shall make recommendations for the integration of these measures in national operational programmes.

When certain legislative provisions are amended, the constraints related to disaster risk management should be better addressed. The following are particularly concerned: the SEA Directiveon the environmental impact of public and private projects, the SEVESO Directive on technological risks and the provisions concerning technical standards of anti-seismic construction. European legislation also coversflood management and oil spills.

International cooperation

This strategy should be implemented in cooperation with Candidate countries or potential Candidates for accession, with Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) partner countries and as part of the programme for prevention, preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters (PPRD) within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

The Commission will coordinate these actions with the European strategy for the reduction of risks in developing countries. This is to be in line with the international Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015 for disaster prevention.

Disaster risk reduction in developing countries

Disaster risk reduction in developing countries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Disaster risk reduction in developing countries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Humanitarian aid

Disaster risk reduction in developing countries

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 23 February 2009 – EU strategy for supporting disaster risk reduction in developing countries [COM(2009) 84 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This strategy contributes to disaster risk reduction (DRR) in respect of natural or technological disasters in developing countries and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). Due to the socio-economic vulnerability of these countries, climate hazards affect their sustainable development and the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

This strategy is part of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 introduced via the United Nations’ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). It is to be linked with climate change adaptation strategies and action to prevent and respond to man-made crises.

Priority areas for intervention

The Commission supports the inclusion of DRR as a priority of national and local development plans. The introduction of the strategy requires an appropriate institutional framework, especially within national platforms, and adequate financial resources. DRR is also a priority of the political dialogue between the European Union (EU) and developing countries. In this respect, the EU supports the launch in 2009 of the 2nd Global Platform for DRR.

Natural disasters have many causes. The management of underlying risk factors therefore requires a global and intersectoral analysis of local situations.

Action plans should be drawn up on the basis of effective risk monitoring and assessment systems and early warning systems. Investments should foster the development of knowledge and risk management capacity, in particular through research and development and the production of statistics. In addition, there should be an exchange of best practice between the countries and communities concerned.

DRR awareness and education campaigns are an essential component of the strategy. Information should be available to the people most at risk.

Emergency and disaster response mechanisms should be designed in such a way as to link development programmes to humanitarian aid programmes. Similarly, disaster prevention plans should be linked to post-disaster recovery plans. The EU supports the introduction of affordable insurance, risk sharing and transfer mechanisms.

International cooperation

The EU will introduce the strategy in the spirit of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.

This commitment requires coordination between financial backers, donors, governments, regional and international organisations and non-governmental organisations.

Implementation mechanisms

Political dialogue on DRR will be monitored within a Steering Group comprising representatives of Member States and the Commission. It will support the creation of fora for dialogue between the various actors involved, and of national and regional exchange networks. An action plan will be presented in 2009, followed by an assessment in 2011.

Funding instruments

Funds are allocated under the European Development Fund (EDF) and the financial instruments of the 2007-2013 programming period. This Communication provides a framework for the coordination of these instruments.

The Commission supports the integration of DRR with the 7th Research and Development Framework Programme (RDFP), and the use of innovative funding (in the field of tackling climate change in particular).

Context

This strategy contributes to reinforcing the European Union’s response capacity response capacity in the event of disasters and crises in Non-EU Member Countries. It is based on the report from the High Representative and the Commission on climate change and international security.

Response to natural or man-made disasters

Response to natural or man-made disasters

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Response to natural or man-made disasters

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Civil protection

Response to natural or man-made disasters

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 5 March 2008 on “Reinforcing the Union’s Disaster Response Capacity” [COM(2008) 130 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission has put forward proposals which aim to reinforce the European Union’s

disaster response capacity. The notion of ‘disaster’ is used in a broad sense to cover natural or man-made disasters and conflict-related emergencies taking place within the European Union (EU) and also outside its borders.

In order to react effectively to these disasters, a comprehensive approach including risk assessment, forecast, prevention, preparedness and rehabilitation is required. This also requires the mobilisation of all the policies, instruments and services available to the Community and Member States.

Planning, coordination and rapid response

The Commission stresses the need to reinforce the links between civil protection and the environmental policies included in environmental legislation in order to take full advantage of the preventive measures included in the latter. Importance is also placed on developing synergies with international, national and local stakeholders to achieve better coordination.

In particular, the Commission put forward the suggestion to streamline coordination between itself, the Council and Member States for large scale disasters involving both Community instruments and Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) instruments. The Commission referred to the opportunity to establish joint planning and operational teams as well as to develop standard operational procedures adapted to different types of disasters and geographical areas.

The Commission reiterated that it manages many Rapid Alert Systems (RAS) in case of specific sectoral disasters. It also decides on Community humanitarian assistance and coordinates the Community Civil Protection Mechanism. Furthermore, the Commission has at its disposal a number of instruments it can use to finance disaster prevention measures or to alleviate the financial costs incurred by public authorities when undertaking emergency operations. These instruments include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), funds allocated for Rural Development, the Civil Protection Financial Instrument (CPFI) and the Instrument for Stability.

The Commission also has at its disposal a number of coordination tools for managing crisis situations more effectively, such as ARGUS, an internal mechanism developed in June 2006 to respond to multidimensional crises, and the RELEX Crisis Platform, established after the 2004 Tsunami, which assists political coordination between the Commission and Member States during external crisis situations.

Improving humanitarian aid

The Commission aims to improve the European Union’s humanitarian aid capacities. In particular this will be achieved by identifying existing gaps in terms of logistics, further strengthening the rapid assessment and response capacity in the field and improving liaison between the different actors involved.

Noting that the majority of disasters taking place in third countries do not trigger an international response and that when an international response is initiated, it often takes days for external assistance to reach the site, the Commission believes it is important to have an active expert presence in the field and to ensure that local authorities have the capacity to react immediately.

Reinforcing civil protection

In the field of civil protection, the Commission proposes to build up the Monitoring and Information Centre so that it can take on the role of the European Union’s operational centre for intervention. It also aims to improve the European Union’s response capacity, whilst keeping in reserve the means to rapidly intervene in the event of a disaster.

The Commission intends to undertake studies and finance diverse projects with the aim of developing a knowledge base on the EU’s capacity to intervene quickly in the event of major disasters in a Member State or third country. This will include studies on scenarios which aim to identify potential shortcomings and trial runs of different methods which would enable rapid intervention capacities to be kept in reserve. On this basis the Commission will put forward appropriate proposals.

The Commission suggests undertaking other measures in parallel, such as the creation of a European Disaster Response Training Network, the development of early warning systems and promoting the use of the single European emergency number (“112”).

The Communication includes an Annex on the subject of forest fires to clearly demonstrate how further prevention, preparedness, response and recovery measures could be combined to deal with such a disaster in a more effective manner.

Context

The increase in major disasters in recent years (the 2004 tsunami in Asia, the war in Lebanon in 2006, forest fires and floods in Europe in 2007) and the risk of increasingly frequent disasters due to climate change makes modernisation and adaptation of the European Union’s means of response essential.

In December 2007 the European Parliament and European Council invited the Council and Commission to make the best use of the Community Civil Protection Mechanism and the Civil Protection Financial Instrument to help prepare for major emergencies. Furthermore, in December 2007 the European Parliament and the European Council signed the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, a comprehensive framework for improved delivery of humanitarian aid at the European Union level.

Moreover, the Commission believes that a disaster management policy must include measures aimed at preventing this type of event. The Commission announced its intention to present an integrated approach to disaster prevention in the European Union, as well as a European Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction in Developing Countries.

Preventive alert against emergencies

Preventive alert against emergencies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Preventive alert against emergencies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against terrorism

Preventive alert against emergencies

Improving cooperation between Member States on the evaluation of risks, alerts and intervention and the storage of such means in the event of terrorist attacks and other possible emergencies.

2) Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 November 2001, Civil Protection – State of preventive alert against possible emergencies [COM(2001)707 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Following the tragic terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, public authorities throughout the world reviewed their readiness to respond in the event of such an attack. The European Union studied the question, and the European Council in Ghent (October 2001) asked the Commission to draw up an action programme on the subject.

This Communication meets this request and outlines action designed to improve cooperation among Member States on the evaluation of risks, alerts and intervention and the storage of such means, and in the field of research. The programme meets the need to identify infectious and toxic agents, to prevent chemical, nuclear or biological attacks, and to provide treatment when necessary.

The Commission has created a platform for coordinating the resources, services and networks available for civil protection, health protection and research so as to be able to respond to any emergencies.

Civil protection resources

A Community Mechanism designed to strengthen cooperation with regard to civil protection intervention in emergencies will be operational in 2002.

An action programme has been adopted to respond to the consequences of any nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. This programme includes:

  • setting up a monitoring and information centre, which was launched on 29 October 2001;
  • gathering information on nuclear, biological and chemical expertise and on serums and vaccines.

Health protection resources

Since 1998 the Community has had a network for epidemiological surveillance and the control of communicable diseases.

Moreover, European health ministers have asked the Commission to develop an action programme based on the following components:

  • a mechanism for coordination and deployment of joint investigation teams to deal with bio-terrorist risks;
  • a mechanism for information on the capabilities of preventing and fighting bio-terrorism and the availability of serums, antibiotics and vaccines;
  • a European network of experts responsible for evaluating, managing and communicating risks;
  • development of vaccines, medicines and treatments.

A list of possible pathogens and available treatments has been compiled with the cooperation of the European Medicines Agency.

Research resources

The Commission’s Joint Research Centre has highly advanced scientific expertise in the nuclear, chemical and biological fields.

A Global Monitoring System for Environment and Security (GMES) has been adopted by the Commission, giving the EU autonomous and operational capability in this area. The civil protection authorities will be among the first to use the system.

Coordination

The Commission will appoint a European coordinator responsible for monitoring and coordinating the initiatives set out in this Communication. The coordinator will be responsible, in particular, for the management of the Community mechanism for coordinating action in civil protection.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work