The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) maintains and develops a comprehensive set of civil protection partnerships with members of the Civil Protection Mechanism, other EU institutions, neighbouring countries, global partners, and international organisations.
All 28 EU Member States and three other European countries (Norway, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) join their national civil protection capacities under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The Mechanism is operated by the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) hosted at ECHO's Brussels Headquarters. When a country asks for emergency assistance, the ERCC organises and coordinates the delivery of civil protection teams and equipment provided by the participating countries.
ECHO and the ERCC can call upon European Commission's departments who possess specific knowledge and expertise to act both on prevention and response to crises. Departments with which ECHO collaborates include Justice, Home Affairs, Health and Consumers, Climate Action, European Marine Support Agency (EMSA) and Environment.
The EU Seveso Directive, under the lead of the Commission's Environment department, lays down rules for the prevention of major industrial accidents and on how to best limit their consequences.
The EU promotes an active neighbourhood policy through the European Neighbourhood Policy Framework (ENP) which aims for greater economic and political integration with countries bordering the Union.
The Eastern Partnership programme, within the ENP framework, extends the civil protection prevention, preparedness and response cooperation activities to Eastern Europe. Cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine aims not only to prevent, prepare and respond to disasters in these partner countries and the EU, but also to contribute to social and political stability. Climate change is also an issue covered in the cooperation undergoing in this partnership.
Civil protection is also the cooperation cornerstone of the Union for the Mediterranean. The Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters (PPRD) programme aims to bring together Mediterranean Partner Countries and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The programme beneficiaries are Mediterranean and Balkan countries.
The European Commission signed Administrative Arrangements to improve cooperation and facilitate preparedness in emergency situations with a number of countries. The agreements with Australia, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Moldova cover a wide range of topics; from information exchange during major emergencies to exchange of emergency management best practices. Furthermore, letters of Intent and regional support programmes govern other levels of collaboration with additional countries. Letters of cooperation have been exchanged with Japan and Chile.
EU civil protection teams collaborate with international organisations when responding to emergencies, such as:
- IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency - Nuclear Safety Department
- IFRC International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
- NATO EADRCC Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre
- UNEP United Nations Environmental Programme
- UN ISDR International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
- UN OCHA Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- WHO World Health Organisation
- EMSA European Maritime Safety Agency
- IMO International Maritime Organization