Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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Civil protection partners

Civil protection in Jordan. Photo credit: EU/ECHO/Panos Katsikopoulos

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.

EU Civil Protection Mechanism

All 28 EU Member States and three other European countries (Norway, Iceland 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.

EU institutions

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.

In the case of marine pollution disasters, prevention and response come under the responsibility of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

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.

European neighbourhood

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) South programme aims to bring together Mediterranean Partner Countries and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The programme beneficiaries are Mediterranean and Balkan countries.

Bilateral partners

The European Commission signed Administrative Arrangements to improve cooperation and facilitate preparedness in emergency situations with a number of countries, namely Australia, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Moldova. These agreements cover a wide range of topics, from information exchange during major emergencies to exchange of emergency management best practices. Furthermore, letters of cooperation have been exchanged with Japan and Chile, while letters of intent, regional support programmes and bilateral projects govern other levels of collaboration with ASEAN, China and additional countries.

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