Today we mark the beginning of a new era for European civil protection, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said on Tuesday speaking before the European Parliament Plenary, in view of the voting on upgrading the EU’s civil defence mechanism, tested to its limits in 2017 and 2018 by forest fires, storms and floods.
The new legislation, informally agreed with Council in December, will help member states to respond faster and more effectively to natural and man-made disasters, by sharing civil protection assets more efficiently.
It will also set 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 member states do not have enough resources to respond to a disaster.
Stylianides said that today the Parliament is voting for the most ambitious European civil protection system that ever existed. Today the Parliament is voting for something that was politically unthinkable a few years ago, he noted.
He stressed that with your political support RescEU will be a reality ahead of the next forest fire season and that he is really pround of being European.
Stylianides stressed that “our common goal is to protect and save lives and livelihoods.” Moreover, he noted that “we are working closely with Member States to set in motion as soon as possible the ‘RescEU transition phase’. So that disaster response capacities can be in place to respond to possible forest fires in Europe already in 2019.”
The Commissioner said that the feedback from member states so far is positive, and thanked them for that.
Noting that natural disasters will not stop and that on the contrary they become more frequent and more intense because of climate change, he stressed that “what we aim to do with RescEU is to better equip ourselves to face these disasters.”
He stressed that “today we mark the beginning of a new era for European civil protection. This is about Europe that protects. We owe this to our citizens”
Stylianides said that “the most important thing we have achieved with rescEU is that we make European solidarity stronger. More efficient, more effective and more tangible.”
“In these times in which our European project is being questioned by many and with very important European elections coming up we are delivering on our promise to build a Europe that protects, a Europe that saves lives,” he underlined.
On her part, Rapporteur Elisabetta Gardini said that today we are writing an important page in the European history.
She stressed that according to the Eurobarometer, citizens want political protection since local and regional authorities can address urgent situations as forest fires.
RescEU will be able to immediately respond where it is needed and for prevention and preparedness in member states to face natural disasters or chemical and nuclear accidents, etc, she noted.