From 2008-2010, the EU Budgetary Authority earmarked an annual amount for a Preparatory Action on an EU Rapid Response Capability. The preparatory action was established in order to test ways of improving the EU's disaster response capacity. Preparatory actions can run for a maximum of three years and allow the EU to test new initiatives with a view to introducing a legislative proposal once the preparatory action is finished.
The Preparatory Action on an EU Rapid Response Capability consists of establishing dedicated civil protection modules that Member States make available for European civil protection interventions and/or additional complementary capacities made available by the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) through standing arrangements with other parties. By ensuring that key resources and essential equipment are on stand-by to respond to major disasters, the preparatory action is intended to enhance Europe's collective preparedness for major disasters and is a way of testing an enhanced European civil protection capacity.
In 2008, €4 million was available (financing decision ) for the preparatory action and a further €3.5 million for a pilot project to step up cooperation between Member States on combating forest fires; in 2009, the preparatory action budget was increased to €7.5 million by merging the pilot project into the preparatory action. In 2010, the preparatory action was renewed for the third and last time, with again €7.5 million available.
The calls for proposals and selected projects can be found here.
Following the devastating forest fires in the South of Europe in 2007, the EU budgetary authority earmarked €3.5 million in the 2008 budget for a Pilot Project to step up cooperation between Member States on combating forest fires.
The aim of the Pilot Project is to improve mobilisation of additional operational resources and emergency support to assist Member States in coping with forest fires in situations when other Member States are unable to provide such assistance, for example because of forest fires on their own territory. The additional operational resources are based on the needs of forest fires emergencies in 2007 and 2008 in the EU.
The selected pilot project, the EU Forest Fire Tactical Reserve, consisted of two fire-fighting planes (Canadair CL-215) that were leased from the market and available to fly 150 hours each from 1 July to 30 September 2009. The planes were a supplementary European resource designed to reinforce the overall EU fire-fighting capacity and available to assist EU Member States requesting aerial fire fighting assistance through the Community Civil Protection Mechanism. The project was coordinated by France and benefited from 80 % Commission financing.
The EUFFTR planes were stationed in Bastia, Corsica. From there, mainland France and Italy are within a short flight distance; Lisbon in the West, Athens in the South East and Sofia in the East are roughly equidistant. The decision to deploy the EUFFTR was made by the Commission after consultation on the forest fires situation with all the Southern Member States.
Thanks to the EUFFTR project, in 2009 the EU significantly increased its contribution to the response to major forest fires. The EUFFTR intervened in six of the total of nine 2009 forest fire emergencies managed by the Monitoring and Information Centre: twice in France and Portugal, and once in both Italy and Greece. In the remaining three activations (Albania, Greece and Portugal) sufficient and timely assistance was provided by other Member States and the EUFFTR was not mobilised.