Today the European Commission signed an administrative arrangement with Tunisia to boost ties in civil protection and disaster risk management.
The document, signed at this year's European Civil Protection Forum in Brussels, outlines key areas of cooperation on disaster prevention, preparedness, and response on issues such as forest fires, floods, and search and rescue missions. The signature of this arrangement is an important step in the reinforcement of the EU-Tunisia Privileged Partnership.
On the occasion, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "Global challenges such as natural disasters require joint efforts and strong partnerships. The agreement is a win-win for both sides and will mean practical results for people during times of need. It is a tangible sign that EU cooperation with Tunisia is deep and strong. We are ready to support Tunisia as a key civil protection partner in our wider southern neighbourhood. This year's EU Civil Protection Forum has been a great success and this is one of the concrete outcomes."
Under the new arrangement, Tunisia will benefit from training for experts, the setting up of joint emergency response plans as well as closer cooperation with the EU's Copernicus satellite system. The move is part of the EU's increasing cooperation with Tunisia in a number of fields.
This year's Civil Protection Forum gathered together a wide community of decision-makers, disaster management experts and first-line responders to exchange best practices and enhance their cooperation at all levels. Participants in the Forum also discussed the Commission's rescEU proposal to further strengthen Europe's ability to tackle disasters that was presented in November 2017.
Whenever the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism enables coordinated assistance from its Participating States. These include all EU Member States, as well as Iceland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey. Cooperation arrangements signed with additional countries, such as Tunisia, formalise cooperation and thereby strengthen joint response to natural and man-made disasters.
Following the agreement with Algeria in December 2016, this is the second time that an administrative arrangement has been signed with a country from the southern neighbourhood of the EU.