A number of European countries have been struggling with huge floods in recent days. Rescue teams have worked tirelessly and the response from authorities has been impressive and professional. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) of the Commission has supported three Member States by providing more than 30 satellite maps to support needs and damage assessment. Images from Paris have been particularly dramatic.
It was only three months ago that France organized the EU SEQUANA 2016 exercise, simulating major floods in Paris and its region. This was done with co-financing from the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism and with participation from several European countries, helping the French authorities to be better prepared and to fine-tune the coordination between the national chain of command and the assistance that could be provided by France's partners. Interoperability between European assets and the French capacities was also tested during the exercise, as well as the role to be played by private and public companies.
In this exercise, rescue teams and vehicles provided by Belgium, Spain, Italy and Czech Republic had the possibility alongside their French colleagues to test in Paris area their response capacities. The exercise represented a good opportunity to prepare and consolidate the EU response to disasters. This kind of large-scale exercise, which is part of the overall EU Civil Protection preparedness and training policy, contributes to creating dedicated, motivated and highly qualified EU expert networks.
Those European teams are ready to support any EU or third country affected by a disaster, even if during the present floods the French authorities have been able to cope with the current situation without requesting assistance from other Member States.