Italy is facing severe forest fires in its southern regions. It has requested European Union support through the Civil Protection Mechanism, upon which the EU has immediately responded.
Three French air planes specialised in fire-fighting missions are now already on their way to help Italian authorities to bring the situation under control.
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said: "The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is a strong example of solidarity in action and how Europe can better protects its citizens by pooling resources from different countries. I am very thankful to France for having immediately provided help in these times of great need. I want to assure our Italian friends that Europe stands ready to give further assistance if and when requested."
In addition to the above, the European Union has deployed an expert to assist in coordinating the EU's emergency response on the ground. The EU is further ready to provide Copernicus satellite mapping.
On 12 July, the European Forest Fires Information System recorded 24 fires that burned in Italy. Forest fires rage over a big part in the south of the country, including the regions of Sicily, Basilicata, Campania, Lazio and Calabria. Forest fire risk is expected to remain at very high levels in the south of the country's mainland and Sicily while even worsening in Sardinia.
The three deployed air planes are part of the European Emergency Response capacity. This means additional fire-fighting planes available that can be called to assist when national capacity is overwhelmed. The EU can fund up to 85% of the transport costs.
This is the third time that Italy has asked for assistance from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism since its creation and the first time since the forest fires in 2009. This mechanism is being managed by the Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre, which operates on a 24/7 basis and plays a key role as a coordination hub to facilitate a coherent European response during emergencies inside and outside Europe.