OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECT MATTER
Mutual assistance and support in the face of disasters is both a fundamental expression of the universal value of solidarity between people and a moral imperative, as such disasters may lead to a significant number of people being unable to meet their basic needs, with potential severe adverse effects on their health and lives.
The impact of both man-made and natural disasters within the Union is increasingly severe. This is linked to a number of factors, such as climate change, but also to other contributing external factors and circumstances which are unfolding in the Union’s neighbourhood.
Man-made or natural disasters may be of such a scale and impact that they can give rise to severe economic difficulties in one or several Member States. They can also occur in one or several Member States already facing severe economic difficulties for other reasons, with the result of exacerbating and aggravating even further the overall economic situation of the Member States concerned. In either case, the response capacity of the Member States concerned would be adversely affected, and the assistance and support being provided to people in need would, in turn, be negatively affected.
The Union Civil Protection Mechanism (“the Union Mechanism”) shall aim to strengthen the cooperation between the Union and the Member States and to facilitate coordination in the field of civil protection in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing, preparing for and responding to natural and man-made disasters.
The protection to be ensured by the Union Mechanism shall cover primarily people, but also the environment and property, including cultural heritage, against all kinds of natural and man-made disasters, including the consequences of acts of terrorism, technological, radiological or environmental disasters, marine pollution, and acute health emergencies, occurring inside or outside the Union. In the case of the consequences of acts of terrorism or radiological disasters, the Union Mechanism may cover only preparedness and response actions.
The Union Mechanism shall promote solidarity between the Member States through practical cooperation and coordination, without prejudice to the Member States’ primary responsibility to protect people, the environment, and property, including cultural heritage, on their territory against disasters and to provide their disaster-management systems with sufficient capabilities to enable them to cope adequately and in a consistent manner with disasters of a nature and magnitude that can reasonably be expected and prepared for.
Such cooperation shall include:
(a) prevention and preparedness actions inside the Union and also outside the Union; and
(b) actions to assist with the response to immediate adverse consequences of a disaster inside or outside the Union, including in the countries referred to in Article 28(1), following a request for assistance through the Union Mechanism.
1. The Union Mechanism shall support, complement and facilitate coordination of Member States’ action in pursuit of the following common specific objectives:
(a) to achieve a high level of protection against disasters by preventing or reducing their potential effects, by fostering a culture of prevention and by improving cooperation between the civil protection and other relevant services;
(b) to enhance preparedness at Member State and Union level to respond to disasters;
(c) to facilitate rapid and efficient response in the event of disasters or imminent disasters; and
(d) to increase public awareness and preparedness for disasters.
Third countries and international organisations
The Union Mechanism shall be open to the participation of:
(a) European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), in accordance with the conditions laid down in the EEA Agreement, and other European countries when agreements and procedures so provide;
(b) acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates in accordance with the general principles and general terms and conditions for the participation of those countries in Union programmes established in the respective Framework Agreements and Association Council Decisions, or similar arrangements;
International or regional organisations may cooperate in activities under the Union Mechanism where relevant bilateral or multilateral agreements between those organisations and the Union so allow.
‘disaster’ means any situation which has or may have a severe impact on people, the environment, or property, including cultural heritage;
‘response’ means any action taken upon request for assistance under the Union Mechanism in the event of an imminent disaster, or during or after a disaster, to address its immediate adverse consequences;
‘preparedness’ means a state of readiness and capability of human and material means, structures, communities and organisations enabling them to ensure an effective rapid response to a disaster, obtained as a result of action taken in advance;
‘prevention’ means any action aimed at reducing risks or mitigating adverse consequences of a disaster for people, the environment and property, including cultural heritage;
‘early warning’ means the timely and effective provision of information that allows action to be taken to avoid or reduce risks and the adverse impacts of a disaster, and to facilitate preparedness for an effective response;
‘module’ means a self-sufficient and autonomous predefined task- and needs-driven arrangement of Member States’ capabilities or a mobile operational team of the Member States, representing a combination of human and material means that can be described in terms of its capacity for intervention or by the task(s) it is able to undertake;
‘risk assessment’ means the overall cross-sectoral process of risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation undertaken at national or appropriate sub-national level;
‘risk management capability’ means the ability of a Member State or its regions to reduce, adapt to or mitigate risks (impacts and likelihood of a disaster), identified in its risk assessments to levels that are acceptable in that Member State. Risk management capability is assessed in terms of the technical, financial and administrative capacity to carry out adequate:
(a) risk assessments;
(b) risk management planning for prevention and preparedness; and
(c) risk prevention and preparedness measures;
‘host nation support’ means any action undertaken in the preparedness and response phases by the country receiving or sending assistance, or by the Commission, to remove foreseeable obstacles to international assistance offered through the Union Mechanism. It includes support from Member States to facilitate the transiting of this assistance through their territory;
‘response capacity’ means assistance that may be provided through the Union Mechanism upon request;
‘logistical support’ means the essential equipment or services required for expert teams to perform their tasks, inter alia communication, temporary accommodation, food or in-country transport.
1. To fulfil the prevention objectives and carry out prevention actions, the Commission shall:
(a) take action to improve the knowledge base on disaster risks and facilitate the sharing of knowledge, best practices and information, including among Member States that share common risks;
(b) support and promote Member States’ risk assessment and mapping activity through the sharing of good practices, and facilitate access to specific knowledge and expertise on issues of common interest;
(c) establish and regularly update a cross-sectoral overview and map of natural and man-made disaster risks the Union may face, by taking a coherent approach across different policy areas that may address or affect disaster prevention and taking due account of the likely impacts of climate change;
(d) encourage an exchange of good practices on preparing national civil protection systems to cope with the impact of climate change;
(e) promote and support the development and implementation of Member States’ risk management activity through the sharing of good practices, and facilitate access to specific knowledge and expertise on issues of common interest;
(f) compile and disseminate the information made available by Member States; organise an exchange of experiences about the assessment of risk management capability;
(g) report periodically to the European Parliament and to the Council on the progress made in the implementation of Article 6;
(h) promote the use of various Union funds which may support sustainable disaster prevention and encourage the Member States and regions to exploit those funding opportunities;
(i) highlight the importance of risk prevention and support the Member States in awareness-raising, public information and education;
(j) promote prevention measures in the Member States and third countries, referred to in Article 28, through the sharing of good practices, and facilitate access to specific knowledge and expertise on issues of common interest; and
(k) in close consultation with Member States, take additional necessary supporting and complementary prevention action
At the request of a Member State, a third country or the United Nations or its agencies, the Commission may deploy an expert team on site to provide advice on prevention measures.
In order to promote an effective and coherent approach to prevention of and preparedness for disasters by sharing non- sensitive information, namely information whose disclosure would not be contrary to the essential interests of Member States’ security, and best practices within the Union Mechanism, Member States shall:
develop risk assessments at national or appropriate sub- national level
develop and refine their disaster risk management planning at national or appropriate sub-national level;
participate, on a voluntary basis, in peer reviews on the assessment of risk management capability.
Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC)
The ERCC shall ensure 24/7 operational capacity, and serve the Member States and the Commission in pursuit of the objectives of the Union Mechanism.
General preparedness actions of the Commission
The Commission shall carry out the following preparedness actions:
(a) manage the ERCC;
(b) manage a Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) to enable communication and sharing of information between the ERCC and the Member States’ contact points;
(c) contribute to the development and better integration of transnational detection and early warning and alert systems of European interest in order to enable a rapid response, and to promote the inter-linkage between national early warning and alert systems and their linkage to the ERCC and the CECIS. Those systems shall take into account and build upon existing and future information, monitoring and detection sources and systems;
(d) establish and manage the capability to mobilise and dispatch expert teams, responsible for:
(i) assessing the needs that can possibly be addressed under the Union Mechanism in the state requesting assistance,
(ii) facilitating, when necessary, the coordination of disaster response assistance on site and liaising with the competent authorities of the state requesting assistance, and
(iii) supporting the requesting state with expertise on prevention, preparedness or response actions;
(e) establish and maintain the capability to provide logistical support for those expert teams;
(f) develop and maintain a network of trained experts of the Member States, who can be available at short notice to assist the ERCC in the monitoring of information and facilitating coordination;
(g) facilitate the coordination of the Member States’ pre-positioning of disaster response capacities inside the Union;
(h) support efforts to improve the inter-operability of modules and other response capacities, taking into account the best practices at the level of the Member States and at international level;
(i) take, within its sphere of competence, the necessary actions to facilitate host nation support, including developing and updating, together with Member States, guidelines on host nation support, on the basis of operational experience;
(j) support the creation of voluntary peer review assessment programmes for the Member States’ preparedness strategies, based on pre-defined criteria, which will enable recommendations to be formulated to strengthen the level of preparedness of the Union; and
(k) in close consultation with the Member States, take additional necessary supporting and complementary preparedness action.
General preparedness actions of the Member States
1. Member States shall, on a voluntary basis, work towards developing modules, in particular to meet priority intervention or support needs under the Union Mechanism.
Member States shall identify, in advance, modules, other response capacities and experts within their competent services, in particular within their civil protection or other emergency services, which could be made available for intervention upon request through the Union Mechanism. They shall take into account that the composition of modules or other response capacities may depend on the type of disaster and on the disaster-related particular needs.
2. Modules shall be made up of the resources of one or more Member States and shall:
(a) be able to perform pre-defined tasks in the areas of response in accordance with established international guidelines and therefore be able to:
(i) be dispatched at very short notice following a request for assistance through the ERCC; and
(ii) work self-sufficiently and autonomously for a given period of time;
(b) be interoperable with other modules;
(c) undertake training and exercises in order to meet the interoperability requirement;
(d) be placed under the authority of a person who is responsible for the operation of modules; and
(e) be able to cooperate with other Union bodies and/or international institutions, in particular the United Nations, as appropriate.
3. The Member States shall, on a voluntary basis, identify, in advance, experts that could be dispatched as members of expert teams, as specified in point (d) of Article 8.
4. The Member States shall consider providing, as required, other response capacities, which could be available from the competent services, or which may be provided by non-governmental organisations and other relevant entities.
Other response capacities may comprise resources from one or more Member States and, where appropriate, shall:
(a) be able to perform tasks in the areas of response in accordance with established international guidelines and therefore be able to:
(i) be dispatched at very short notice following a request for assistance through the ERCC; and
(ii) work self-sufficiently and autonomously where necessary for a given period of time;
(b) be able to cooperate with other Union bodies and/or international institutions, in particular the United Nations, as appropriate.5. Member States may, subject to appropriate security safeguards, provide information about relevant military capacities that could be used as a last resort as part of the assistance through the Union Mechanism, such as transport and logistical or medical support.
6. Member States shall provide to the Commission relevant information on the experts, modules and other response capacities that they make available for assistance through the Union Mechanism and update this information when necessary.
7. Member States shall designate contact points and inform the Commission accordingly.
8. Member States shall take the appropriate preparedness actions to facilitate host nation support.
9. Member States, supported by the Commission shall take the appropriate measures to ensure the timely transport of assistance they offer.
Planning of operations
1. The Commission and Member States shall work together to improve the planning of disaster response operations under the Union Mechanism, including through scenario-building for disaster response, asset mapping and the development of plans for the deployment of response capacities.
2. The Commission and the Member States shall identify and promote synergies between civil protection assistance and humanitarian aid funding provided by the Union and Member States in the planning of response operations for humanitarian crises outside the Union.
European Emergency Response Capacity
European Emergency Response Capacity (EERC) shall consist of a voluntary pool of pre- committed response capacities of the Member States and include modules, other response capacities and experts.
2. On the basis of identified risks, the Commission shall define the types and the number of key response capacities required for the EERC (“capacity goals”).
3. The Commission shall define quality requirements for the response capacities that Member States commit to the EERC. The quality requirements shall be based on established international standards, where such standards already exist. The Member States shall be responsible for ensuring the quality of their response capacities.
4. The Commission shall establish and manage a process for certification and registration of the response capacities that the Member States make available to the EERC.
5. Member States shall on a voluntary basis identify and register the response capacities which they commit to the EERC. The registration of multinational modules provided by two or more Member States shall be undertaken jointly by all the Member States concerned.
6. The response capacities that Member States make available for the EERC shall remain available for national purposes at all times.
7. Response capacities that Member States make available for the EERC shall be available for response operations under the Union Mechanism following a request for assistance through the ERCC. The ultimate decision on their deployment shall be taken by the Member States which registered the response capacity concerned. When domestic emergencies, force majeure or, in exceptional cases, serious reasons prevent a Member State from making those response capacities available in a specific disaster, that Member State shall inform the Commission as soon as possible by referring to this Article.
8. In the event of deployment, Member States’ response capacities shall remain under their command and control and can be withdrawn when domestic emergencies, force majeure or, in exceptional cases, serious reasons prevent a Member State from keeping those response capacities available, in consultation with the Commission.
9. Member States and the Commission shall ensure an appropriate public awareness of the interventions involving the EERC.
Training, exercises, lessons learnt and knowledge dissemination
The Commission shall within the Union Mechanism carry out the following tasks in the field of training, exercises, lessons learnt and knowledge dissemination:
(a) set up and manage a training programme for civil protection and emergency management personnel on prevention of, preparedness for and response to disasters. The programme shall include joint courses and a system for exchange of experts, whereby individuals may be seconded to other Member States.
(b) set up and manage a training network open to training centres for civil protection and emergency management personnel as well as other relevant actors and institutions on prevention of, preparedness for and response to disasters.
The training network shall aim to:
(i) enhance all phases of disaster management, taking into account adaptation to and mitigation of climate change;
(ii) create synergies among its members through exchange of experience and best practices, relevant research, lessons learnt, courses and workshops, exercises and pilot projects; and
(iii) develop guidance on Union and international civil protection training, including training on prevention of, preparedness for and response to disasters;
(c) develop a strategic framework setting out the objectives and the role of exercises, a long-term comprehensive plan outlining exercise priorities, as well as set up and manage a programme of exercises;
(d) set up and manage a programme of lessons learnt from civil protection actions conducted within the framework of the Union Mechanism including aspects from the entire disaster management cycle, in order to provide a broad basis for learning processes and knowledge development. The programme shall include:
(i) monitoring, analysing and evaluating all the relevant civil protection actions within the Union Mechanism;
(ii) promoting implementation of lessons learnt in order to obtain an experience-based foundation for the development of activities within the disaster management cycle; and
(iii) developing methods and tools for gathering, analysing, promoting and implementing lessons learnt.
That programme shall also include, where appropriate, lessons learnt from interventions outside the Union with regard to exploiting links and synergies between assistance provided under the Union Mechanism and humanitarian response;
(e) develop guidance on knowledge dissemination and implementation of the different tasks referred to in points (a) to (d) at Member State level; and
(f) stimulate and encourage the introduction and use of relevant new technologies for the purpose of the Union Mechanism.
At the request of a Member State, a third country or the United Nations or its agencies, the Commission may deploy an expert team on site to provide advice on preparedness measures.
Notification of disasters within the Union
1. In the event of a disaster within the Union, or of an imminent disaster, which causes or is capable of causing trans-boundary effects or affects or is capable of affecting other Member States, the Member State in which the disaster occurs or is likely to occur shall, without delay, notify the potentially affected Member States and, where the effects are potentially significant, the Commission.
2. In the event of a disaster within the Union, or of an imminent disaster, which is likely to result in a call for assistance from one or more Member States, the Member State in which the disaster occurs or is likely to occur shall, without delay, notify the Commission that a possible request for assistance through the ERCC can be expected, in order to enable the Commission, as appropriate, to inform the other Member States and to activate its competent services.
Responding to disasters within the Union
When a disaster occurs within the Union, or is imminent, the affected Member State may request assistance through the ERCC. The request shall be as specific as possible.
In exceptional situations of increased risk a Member State may also request assistance in the form of temporary pre-positioning of response capacities.
Any Member State to which a request for assistance is addressed through the Union Mechanism shall promptly determine whether it is in a position to render the assistance required and inform the requesting Member State of its decision through the CECIS, indicating the scope, terms and, where applicable, costs of the assistance it could render. The ERCC shall keep the Member States informed.
The requesting Member State shall be responsible for directing assistance interventions. The authorities of the requesting Member State shall lay down guidelines and, if necessary, define the limits of the tasks entrusted to the modules or other response capacities. The details of the execution of those tasks shall be left to the person in charge appointed by the Member State rendering assistance. The requesting Member State may also request the deployment of an expert team to support its assessment, facilitate coordination on site between Member States’ teams or provide technical advice.
The requesting Member State shall take the appropriate actions to facilitate host nation support for the incoming assistance.
Promoting consistency in the response to disasters outside the Union
When a disaster occurs outside the Union, or is imminent, the affected country may request assistance through the ERCC. The assistance may also be requested through or by the United Nations and its agencies, or a relevant international organisation.
The Union coordination shall be fully integrated with the overall coordination provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and shall respect its leading role.
The Commission shall support the consistency in the delivery of the assistance through the following actions:
(a) maintaining a dialogue with the Member States’ contact points in order to ensure an effective and coherent Union disaster response contribution through the Union Mechanism to the overall relief effort;
(b) immediately making recommendations, when possible in cooperation with the affected country, based on the needs on the ground and any relevant pre-developed plans, inviting Member States to deploy specific capacities and facilitating the coordination of the requested assistance;
(c) liaising with the affected country on technical details, such as the precise needs for assistance, the acceptance of offers and the practical arrangements for the local reception and distribution of assistance;
(d) liaising with or supporting OCHA, and cooperating with other relevant actors that contribute to the overall relief effort, in order to maximise synergies, seek complementarities and avoid duplication and gaps; and
(e) liaising with all relevant actors, in particular in the closing phase of the assistance intervention under the Union Mechanism, to facilitate a smooth handover.
On site, liaison shall be ensured as appropriate with the Union delegation for the latter to facilitate contacts with the government of the affected country. Where necessary, the Union delegation shall provide logistical support to the civil protection expert teams referred to in point (ii) of point (a) of paragraph 3.
Any Member State to which a request for assistance is addressed through the Union Mechanism shall promptly determine whether it is in a position to render the assistance required and inform the ERCC of its decision through the CECIS, indicating the scope and terms of any assistance it could render. The ERCC shall keep Member States informed.
The Union Mechanism may also be used to provide civil protection support to consular assistance to the citizens of the Union in disasters in third countries if requested by the consular authorities of the Member States concerned.
Pursuant to a request for assistance, the Commission may take additional necessary supporting and complementary action in order to ensure consistency in the delivery of the assistance.
Coordination through the Union Mechanism shall affect neither bilateral contacts between Member States and the affected country, nor cooperation between Member States and the United Nations and other relevant international organisations. Such bilateral contacts may also be used to contribute to the coordination through the Union Mechanism.
Support on site
1. The Commission may select, appoint and dispatch an expert team composed of experts provided by Member States:
(a) in the event of a disaster outside the Union;
(b) in the event of a disaster within the Union;
(c) upon request for prevention expertise); or
(d) upon request for preparedness expertise.
Experts from the Commission and from other services of the Union may be integrated in the team in order to support the team and facilitate liaison with the ERCC. Experts dispatched by OCHA or other international organisations may be integrated in the team in order to strengthen cooperation and facilitate joint assessments.
Where expert teams are dispatched, they shall facilitate coordination between Member States’ intervention teams and liaise with the competent authorities of the requesting state as set out in Article 8(d). The ERCC shall maintain close contact with the expert teams and provide them with guidance and logistical support.
Transport and equipment
1. In the event of a disaster, either within or outside the Union, the Commission may support Member States in obtaining access to equipment or transport resources by:
(a) providing and sharing information on equipment and transport resources that can be made available by Member States, with a view to facilitating the pooling of such equipment or transport resources;
(b) assisting Member States to identify, and facilitating their access to, transport resources that may be available from other sources, including the commercial market; or
(c) assisting Member States to identify equipment that may be available from other sources, including the commercial market.
2. The Commission may complement the transport resources provided by Member States by providing additional transport resources necessary for ensuring a rapid response to disasters.
General eligible actions
The following general actions shall be eligible for financial assistance to enhance prevention of, preparedness for and effective response to disasters:
(a) studies, surveys, modelling and scenario building to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, best practices and information;
(b) training, exercises, workshops, exchange of staff and experts, creation of networks, demonstration projects and technology transfer;
(c) monitoring, assessment and evaluation actions;
(d) public information, education and awareness raising and associated dissemination actions, so as to involve citizens in preventing and minimising the effects of disasters in the Union and to help Union citizens to protect themselves more effectively and in a sustainable manner;
(e) establishment and running of a programme of lessons learnt from interventions and exercises in the context of the Union Mechanism, including on areas relevant to prevention and preparedness; and
(f) communication actions and measures to raise awareness of the civil protection work of the Member States and of the Union in the areas of prevention of, preparedness for and response to disasters.