European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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European Emergency Response Capacity


Why is this important?

Since 2001, European countries work together to respond to natural and man-made disasters in Europe and beyond. Under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism they have provided rescue teams, disaster assessment experts and specialised equipment to bring relief to people in need.

Disasters often strike unexpectedly and response teams and equipment need to be deployed in the shortest time possible. Being well prepared to intervene immediately in a disaster is crucial to save lives and to reduce its damage to a minimum. In times of increasing disaster risks, the European Emergency Response Capacity allows for better organised, swifter and more coherent EU operations.   

The European Emergency Response Capacity was established in October 2014 to advance European cooperation in civil protection and enable a faster, better coordinated and more effective European response to natural and man-made disasters.    

What are we doing?

The European Emergency Response Capacity, commonly referred to as Voluntary Pool, brings together specialised emergency response capacities by Participating States – even before disasters strike. This approach allows the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to shift from a reactive and ad-hoc coordination system to a more predictable, pre-planned, coherent, and quality-checked European response to disasters. In addition, the Voluntary Pool helps to identify and fill critical gaps in disaster response capacity in a cost-effective way.

Since 2014, 22 Participating States offered 95 specialised response capacities to the Voluntary Pool, ranging from urban search and rescue teams to water purification equipment, high-capacity pumping units and medical teams. Assets can be deployed only on demand, i.e. following a request for assistance through the European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

To ensure a high quality of civil protection capacities in the Voluntary Pool the European Commission set up a quality assurance process, including a certification process. As part of this process teams are required to provide relevant documentation of their abilities, participate in selected exercises and work together with peers from other countries.

Those countries participating in the Voluntary Pool can benefit from EU financial support to upgrade their offered national response assets, to pay for certification and training costs and to cover up to 85% of the costs related to the transport of teams and assets to disaster areas.

European Medical Corps

The European Medical Corps is part of the European Emergency Response Capacity. Medical teams and equipment from EU Member States can be rapidly deployed to provide medical assistance and public health expertise for emergencies inside and outside the EU.

By April 2018, eleven Member States have offered their specialised units to the European Medical Corps (Norway, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Estonia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Italy, and Denmark.).

The European Medical Corps has been deployed in the context of the European response to the Ebola crisis, in response to the outbreak of yellow fever in Angola and to support Uganda in dealing with the Marburg virus disease outbreak.

The European Medical Corps increased the availability of doctors and medical equipment in emergencies and thus reduce their consequences.

The Emergency Response Capacity is part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and the Emergency Response Coordination Centre serves as the main coordination hub for the deployment of teams and equipment during disasters.

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