The European Civil Protection Pool was established to advance European cooperation in civil protection and enable a faster, better-coordinated and more effective European response to natural and man-made disasters. The Pool brings together resources from 23 participating states, ready for deployment to a disaster zone at short notice. These resources can be rescue or medical teams, experts, specialised equipment or transportation. Whenever a disaster strikes and a request for assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is received, assistance is drawn from this Pool.
Climate change is predicted to further exacerbate the effects of natural and man-made disasters. When these disasters strike, response teams, technical equipment and other resources need to be deployed in the shortest time possible to support the response efforts. Being well prepared to intervene immediately in a disaster is crucial in saving lives and minimising damage.
The European Civil Protection Pool allows for better organised and more coherent EU operations. The European Commission has set up a certification and registration process to ensure that the resources committed to the Pool meet common high standards; it includes the participation of the capacities in disaster simulation exercises in order to train together with peers and other teams in emergency response. Certification helps to ensure that the European response capacities will properly function during international deployments, in close coordination with host nation authorities and with other deployed capacities. The certification is carried out by the European Commission, with the support of experts nominated by the participating states.
Twenty-three participating states have offered 106 specialised response capacities to the Pool. These resources are only deployed for response operations following a request for assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
The European Commission provides financial support to capacities that are part of the Pool when they are deployed for response operations. In addition, financial support is available for the upgrade or repair of response capacities committed to the Pool; resources that only work well within one participating state can therefore be adapted to international standards.
In addition to modules, individual experts can also be deployed to support communities to better prepare for disasters.
Recent response operations using resources from the European Civil Protection Pool include:
In March 2019, cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique killing more than 600 people and having devastating effects on those who survived. Following the activation of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, nine EU Member States (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom) offered immediate support. Thanks to the pre-registered modules in the EU Civil Protection Pool, medical teams, water purification equipment and support to setup a communication system started to arrive quickly to help people in need.
Following forest fires in Sweden in July 2018, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) coordinated the deployment of seven planes, six helicopters, 67 vehicles and over 360 personnel from Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Denmark, Portugal, and Poland. Resources from the Pool were deployed. In addition, the Commission co-funded transportation costs to the sum of €1.15 million and the Copernicus programme produced close to 40 satellite maps.
In 2017, the European Medical Corps was deployed in response to the yellow fever outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Marburg fever outbreak in Uganda. The Medical Corps was created in response to the shortfall of medical staff during the Ebola outbreak in western Africa. Following the 2018 outbreak of Ebola in the DRC, the European Commission is supporting national authorities and international partners to contain the spread of the disease. Logistical support has been provided by the Commission's humanitarian air service ECHO Flight, and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated at the request of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the deployment of medical personnel and equipment.
Shortly after hurricane Matthew made landfall, Haiti activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to ask for international assistance. In response, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre coordinated support to Haiti from the Pool which consisted of two water purification units. The units were deployed to the heart of the crisis zone in Haiti and was operated by 60 rescue workers from the French Civil Protection Military Corps. They purified more than 1.2 million litres of drinking water to halt the spread of diseases such as cholera. The French teams worked together with UNICEF, Haitian authorities and various national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).