Friday, 17 May 2013
EC launches emergency response centre
The European Commission launched its Emergency Response Centre (ERC) on Wednesday to provide a better coordinated, faster and more efficient European response to disasters hitting the continent and worldwide.
Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
The ERC aims to facilitate cooperation of civil protection assistance in response to major natural and man-made emergencies. It will pool the resources of participating countries and promote the sharing of best practices in disaster management.
It will act as the 'operational heart' of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism established in 2001 and recast in 2007 that incorporates the efforts of all 27 EU member states plus Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
"With the unfortunately increasing frequency and complexity of disasters, EU member states need to cooperate even more closely. The new EU Emergency Response Centre provides a state of the art platform that allows them to coordinate under the most extreme circumstances, enables them to tackle these challenges even more effectively and thus helps to protect our citizens," said Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.
Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, added: "Experience shows that no country in the world is completely immune to disasters, no matter how well prepared it is. With the increasing frequency and complexity of disasters, making a coordinated and immediate response is an essential part of any life-saving action. We have established the Emergency Response Centre to enable the EU and its member states to respond to overwhelming natural and man-made disasters in a more timely and efficient manner."
The ERC will be operational 24/7 and be capable of dealing with up to three simultaneous emergencies in different time zones.
It will receive and analyse appeals for assistance from affected countries and serve as a hub to support coordination at various levels: Commission, member states, the affected country, humanitarian partners and civil protection teams deployed in the field.
The ERC will dispatch assessment and coordination experts to disaster areas, provide early warning about upcoming disasters and facilitate the transport of member states' assistance in response to major incidents.
This will ensure that European assistance is meeting priority needs on the disaster scene with no unnecessary and expensive duplication of efforts, said the EC.
In addition, the ERC will step up planning and preparation for EU civil protection operations, in close cooperation with member states.
"With new legislation soon to be in place, the 32 countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism can pre-commit some of their response capacities-such as specialised aircraft, heavy equipment or Search-and-Rescue Teams-to a voluntary pool, ready to be deployed at very short notice as part of a fully coordinated European response whenever the need arises," said the EC.
The ERC will also support close coordination between the different Commission services involved in emergency response.
It will regularly exchange information with the crisis centres of the EU's main international partners.