European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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EU Member States, Enlargement States and EEA - EFTA

Fire-fighting aircraft to combat severe forest fires. Photo credit: EU/ECHO/ERCC

Why is this essential?

A disaster knows no borders, no time to happen or a single origin. Natural disasters within Europe are more often a recurring emergency, with a significant cost to the environment, infrastructure, the economy and, unfortunately, sometimes claiming lives.

There are situations that countries cannot cope with on their own and frequently appeal for international assistance from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Natural hazards are very difficult to prevent but their impact can be limited through the identification of risks, increasing population preparedness population and investments in effective response mechanisms at local, regional and national level.

How are we helping?

Primarily ECHO's role in Europe focuses on the coordination of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism with its participating states. Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, participating states prepare and act upon disasters in and outside Europe. At the heart of the Mechanism is the European Emergency Coordination Centre (ERCC) looking to enhance preparedness and responses with the goal of reduce the loss of lives and reducing the impact of disasters.

The Civil Protection participating states includes all 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Turkey has signed agreements to join the Mechanism. Close cooperation with other countries applying for EU membership - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, is being established in order to contribute to the development of their civil protection capacities and prepare them for participation in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. In the meantime they can request assistance as can any country around the world.