Community response to marine pollution emergencies
Community mechanism for civil protection
Since 1987, the Commission has provided operational support
to Member States faced with major pollution incidents through
an "Urgent Pollution Alert Section" set up in Brussels
whenever needed and operational on a 24h a day basis.
Community Action in the field of response to marine pollution
accidents was reinforced after the
Council Decision of 23 October 2001 that established a
Community mechanism to facilitate reinforced cooperation in
civil protection assistance Interventions. The new instrument
covers both civil protection and marine pollution emergencies.
The general purpose of the Mechanism is, on request,
to provide support in the event of an emergency and to facilitate
improved co-ordination of assistance intervention provided
by the Member States and the Community. The Community Mechanism
for civil protection allows to respond to any major disaster
inside and outside the EU by coordinating requests and offers
for assistance between 30 participating states: the EU 25,
the three European Economic Area countries (Norway, Iceland
and Liechtenstein), plus Bulgaria and Romania.
The Mechanism consists of a series of elements and actions
in particular in the field of emergency preparedness and response:
The EU's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), actively
assists in managing maritime accidents. The MIC is located
within the Directorate-General Environment. It has been operational
since January 2002 and has dealt with more than 50 emergencies
so far. It is a "one-stop shop" manned by specialised
personnel who are on stand-by 24 hours a day seven days a
The MIC monitors the situation for disasters. When a country
hit by a disaster asks for assistance, the MIC forwards the
request for assistance to all the other participating countries.
They then process the responses and send them back to the
country in need of assistance. In this way, within a few hours,
the requesting country has an overview of all the international
help it can rely on.
Sending experts on site
If a pollution incident is sufficiently serious, the Member
State concerned can request the secondment of one or several
government experts who have direct experience of emergency
situations and are therefore particularly well qualified to
give effective assistance. These experts will be called upon
to attend the scene of the incident and give their advice
to the authorities responsible for coordinating the response
measures. Experts may also act as "liaison officers"
to arrange, if necessary, for additional assistance to be
provided by their own Member States.
All the costs of the secondment of experts' assistance
are borne by the Commission.
Since 1987, the following interventions have been carried
2007: South Korea - oil spill
2007: Black Sea - oil spill
2006: Philippines - oil spill
2006: Ivory Coast - toxic spill
spill along Lebanese coast
2002: "PRESTIGE" (Spain/France)
2001: "BALTIC CARRIER" (Denmark)
2001: "JESSICA" (Galapagos)
2000: "PETER" (Gabon)
2000: "IEVOLI SUN" (France)
1999: "ERIKA" (France)
1996: "SEA EMPRESS" (UK)
1993: "BRAER" (Shetland Islands)
1992:"AEGAN SEA" (Spain)
1991: "HAVEN" (Italy)
1991: Oil pollution in the Gulf
1990: Porto Santo Island (Madeira)
1989:"KHARK V" (Spain/Morocco)
Acquisition of satellite images
The European Commission or affected Member State can request
satellite images of the polluted area in the context of the
International Charter (Space and Major Disasters). .
Coordination of mission observers
When an accident happens, Members States are usually interested
in sending observers to the scene. The European Commission
may act as coordinator if there is a need to organise joint
missions of observers coming from national competent authorities.
The European Commission normally shoulders expenses for a
liaison officer in charge of the organisation and development
of the visit, while the costs for each observer are borne
by their own Member State.