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Proposal for a DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Decision No 1313/2013/EU on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism

European Commission

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Reasons for and objectives of the proposal. The proposal is intended to introduce some targeted changes to Council Decision No 1313/2013/EU (‘the Decision’) on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism (‘Union Mechanism’), under which the European Union supports, coordinates and supplements the action of Member States in the field of civil protection to prevent, prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters within and outside the Union. Building on the principles of solidarity and shared responsibility, the overall objective of this proposal is to ensure that the Union can provide a better crisis and emergency support to its citizens in Europe and beyond. The proposal acknowledges that disaster prevention efforts are crucial to limit the need for crisis and emergency support.
According to the recently conducted Interim Evaluation of the UCPM 1 , foreseen in Article 34 of Decision No 1313/2013/EU and other performance assessments such as the 'European Court of Auditors review of the UCPM' 2 , the Union Mechanism has proven to be a useful tool to mobilise and coordinate the assistance provided by the Participating States responding to crises inside and outside the Union, constituting a tangible proof of European solidarity. However, some conclusions extracted from these documents and additional evidence has led to the identification of certain areas where legislative change is warranted. In this regard, operational experience has been a key consideration, representing a major factor leading to this initiative, as it has underlined the limitations of the current framework.
Since 2013 the Union has faced a large number of disasters with tragic loss of lives and other damaging consequences for citizens, businesses, communities and the environment. More concretely, the response to a number of recent disasters, including the humanitarian impact of the refugee and migration crisis, the lack of available assets during the 2016 and 2017 forest fire seasons, the latter having been particularly long and intense resulting in over 100 deaths, as well as the severe impact of a series of hurricanes in the Caribbean and fierce storms and flooding in the EU, have constituted a real stress test for the UCPM. This has been particularly evident during large-scale emergencies affecting several Member States at the same time. In such circumstances, the voluntary nature of Member States' contributions to respond to disasters has too often been insufficient, and the existing gaps in certain critical response capacities, as outlined by the Capacity Gaps Report published in early 2017 3 , have become all too apparent. The most striking examples in this context are the inability of the EU's collective capacity to react to all 17 requests for forest fire assistance, of which only 10 could be granted, at times hampered by delays diminishing the timeliness of the response.
Given this context, there are solid reasons to undertake a targeted revision of the current UCPM legislation in order to address the main challenges that the Union Mechanism faces today. In concrete terms, the changes contained in this proposal are aimed at achieving the following objectives:
a) ▹ Strengthening the effectiveness of prevention action as part of the disaster risk management cycle, as well as reinforcing links with other key EU policies acting in the field of disaster prevention and disaster response;
b) ▹ Reinforcing the Union and Member States’ collective ability to respond to disasters, and addressing recurrent and emerging capacity gaps, especially with the creation of a dedicated reserve of response capacities at Union level, with decisions on deployment taken by the Commission, which retains command and control (to be known as rescEU). rescEU will be equipped with selected emergency capacities to respond to wildfires, floods, earthquakes and health emergencies as appropriate. Following discussion with Member States, a field hospital that can rapidly be deployed inside or outside the Union as part of the European Medical Corps should also be foreseen for cases of epidemics such as Ebola and Zika. Also, Europe has been hit by numerous terrorist attacks. Making such capacities available at EU level will also help generate economies of scale and reduce costs of procuring the same capacities individually.
c) ▹ Ensuring the Union Mechanism is agile and effective in its administrative procedures in support of emergency operations.
The need to strengthen European Civil Protection in the light of disaster trends, including extreme weather, and against the background of internal security concerns, has been widely recognised. This proposal is based on further recent analysis and close reflections on the identified gaps, jointly undertaken with the responsible Civil Protection Authorities.

No. COM(2017) 772 final. (23 November 2017) 
Key: INRMM:14630733



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