Crisis preparedness and response

Generic preparedness planning for public health threats

EU action in the field of general public-health preparedness focuses on advising national authorities and ensuring that they factor the EU dimension into their emergency plans, since EU law in numerous areas may have an impact on them.

Having an EU-level strategy:

  • provides a backbone for developing national plans to address generically different types of health threats – expected (e.g. pandemic influenza, accidents and natural events ), unexpected, such as emergencies linked to deliberate acts, accidents or natural events, including biological, chemical, physical or radio-nuclear agents (e.g. SARS–type epidemic).
  • helps ensure the inter-operability of national plans – through coordination mechanisms, analysis and communication tools

Generic preparedness planning

The Commission's generic preparedness planning (Nov. 2005) addresses public-health threats and emergencies that affect or are likely to affect public health in more than one EU country. It provides a foundation on which national authorities can build their own generic or disease-specific plans, highlighting the main elements that need to be addressed.

See also the technical guidance document , including recommendations and check lists. This document was updated in December 2009 and is regarded as a living document being updated where appropriate.

Training and exercises

Commission staff regularly undergo training so they are prepared to act in the event of a crisis.

The Commission also organises regular exercises to test EU and national preparedness plans, in particular whether national authorities and institutions are able to work together with the Commission and each other to share information during a fast-evolving health threat that cuts across departmental responsibilities.


Mathematical models are used to analyse the spread and control of hazardous agents/situations and help decision-makers take adequate preparedness and prevention measures.

The EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) applies such models to assess the public-health impact of infectious disease epidemics and pandemics, the spread of chemicals and radio-nuclear agents, and the effects of climate change.

Health security committee communicators' network

The health security committee (HSC) has a communicators' network that brings together specialist communicators from the Commission, EU agencies and national risk management authorities to exchange experience and best practice on health risk and crisis communication.