Crisis preparedness and response

Chemical, biological and radio-nuclear threats

The EU coordinates national policies to combat major cross-border threats to public health, including deliberate or accidental release of CBRN agents. The EU also develops CBRN preparedness and response plans at the EU-level.

What are CBRN threats?

EU preparedness focuses on all types of CBRN hazard – man-made, natural, accidental or deliberate, e.g. deliberate contamination of drinking water, accidental radio-nuclear contamination or the emergence of a new infectious disease including those that take the form of a pandemic.

EU activities

EU-level CBRN preparedness/response activities include:

  • crisis-management arrangements and strategies
  • communication systems linking up EU countries
  • expert advice on prevention, treatment and mitigation
  • health risk assessments
  • promoting research in CBRN related topics

Organisational framework for CBRN threats in the EU

The EU Health Security Committee, with representatives from all EU countries, is the key coordination body for health security in the EU. The three sections of the HSC are (i) CBRN, (ii) influenza and (iii) generic preparedness planning.

Global Health Security Initiative

The Global Health Security Initiative is a partnership of health officials from the G7 countries, Mexico, and the European Commission, with WHO participating as observer.

It provides a platform for health security preparedness at global level and provides advice during health emergencies.

Examples of recent CBRN incidents

  • Cobalt-60 contaminated stainless steel
  • Polonium-210 used as a poison
  • Melamine-contaminated milk
  • Avian influenza A(H5N1)