Crisis preparedness and response

ARGUS - a general European rapid alert system

Recent major crisis such as the terrorist attacks or the tsunami have shown that a crisis rarely affects only one sector of activities. This is why the Commission decided to create a general European rapid alert system called ARGUS, with the capability to link all specialized systems for emergencies, and a central crisis centre (CCC) which would bring together all relevant Commission services during an emergency.

Although emergencies management is mainly the responsibility of the Member States, the European Commission has nevertheless a role to play when it is related to its domains of competences and can also offer its support to Member States.

ARGUS has been set up by a communication from the Commission in December 2005 1 with the aim to assure a coordinated and effective management of major multi-sectoral crisis that require a reaction at the European Community level. It is an internal network. Member States and external bodies are connected through sector-specific rapid alert systems.

More precisely, the system:
  • Allows each Directorate General in the Commission to inform other Directorates General and services of a beginning or risk of multi-sectoral crisis via an alert exchange.
  • Provides a coordination process that can be activated in case of crisis: the crisis coordination committee.
  • Provides a common source of information that will be used by the Commission to communicate in an effective and coherent way with citizens.

Responsibility for handling and coordinating the response to the crisis including communication aspects should be taken by the relevant Directorate General, under the responsibility of the relevant Commissioner whose scope of activities usually includes this type of crisis because of its nature. The coordination with other directorate general is made via Argus network.


1 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Commission provisions on "ARGUS" general rapid alert system, COM(2005) 662 final.