The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has often helped to save lives, including during the Covid-19 crisis, by coordinating and assisting in the implementation of civil protection measures. Fans, personal protective equipment, vaccines, medicines and laboratory supplies have been purchased to support Member States’ services through the additional reserve fund “RescEU” established in 2019. This week, additional aid was delivered to the refugees from the burned-out Moria camp on the island of Lesbos in Greece, Krastiņš said.
However, the pandemic has shown that in cases where many Member States are simultaneously affected by the same emergency, the effectiveness of the crisis management system is limited. The EP therefore wants to strengthen the capacity of the EU’s additional capacity reserve, RescEU, to ensure that Member States do not have to rely solely on their own resources and voluntary assistance in such emergencies.
In the current negotiations on the EU budget and the Recovery Fund, the EP has supported the budget increase proposed by the European Commission for the additional capacity reserve.
However, as Krastiņš pointed out, MEPs are demanding a significantly higher amount for training, including the purchase of new “RescEU” equipment and materials. This would allow for a rapid and effective response to large-scale emergencies or crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which are unlikely but have severe consequences, MEPs stress.
In order to make the use of EU funding more transparent, MEPs also want to see how the money is divided into the three pillars of the mechanism, namely prevention, preparedness and response.
The report was adopted by 617 votes to 52, with 23 abstentions. The EP is ready to enter into negotiations with the Member States so that the enhanced mechanism can become operational by January 2021.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was established in 2013. Its original aim was to strengthen cooperation in disaster prevention, preparedness and response. If the scale of the emergency situation has exhausted the country’s response capacity, it may request voluntary assistance from other countries through the mechanism.
Krastiņš pointed out that an additional reserve fund “RescEU” was established in 2019 so that the EU could directly assist the Member States affected by the disaster when their internal capacity has been exhausted. RescEU fire planes and helicopters have helped Member States save lives during earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and forest fires, as well as evacuating EU citizens.
During the current Covid-19 crisis, more than 75,000 EU citizens were taken home through it. During the pandemic, RescEU also supplied medical equipment such as ventilators, personal protective equipment, medicines and laboratory supplies to support Member States’ health services.