Rapid, well-coordinated response is essential in emergencies. To improve Europe's capacity to react to disasters, the European Commission relies on its new, state-of-the-art Emergency Response and Coordination Centre (ERCC).
Based in Brussels and operational since May, the ERCC collects and analyses real-time information on disasters and risks. It shares this information with Member States, prepares plans for the deployment of experts and equipment and works together with national authorities to coordinate the EU's disaster response. Operating around the clock, the Centre is able to deal with several simultaneous emergencies in Europe and beyond and to facilitate a faster, more efficient response.
The ERCC is the heart of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which helps Member States plan and coordinate their joint assistance operations in emergencies.
Since its creation, the ERCC has been actively processing information and coordinating European assistance in a number of emergencies. Alongside monitoring disaster risks around the world, it gave valuable logistical and practical support during the floods and forest fires in Europe in the summer of 2013. In October 2013, it coordinated the assistance from five Member States to Bulgaria which needed support to meet the first needs of refugees from the war in Syria.
Joint EU action in emergencies is evolving in response to the rising number and intensity of disasters. Since its creation in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated over 150 times. It has helped in major crises such as the tsunami in South Asia (2004/2005); hurricane Katrina in the USA (2005); earthquakes in Haiti (2010) and Japan (2011); forest fires in Greece (2007, 2012); unrest in Libya (2011); assistance to Syrian refugees (2012-2013).