The European Union and the Reform of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism

In March 2019, the EU Parliament and the Council adopted the text of the decision (EU) 2019/420 reshaping the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), as previously agreed at the end of 2018.

With a view of strengthening Member States’ cooperation to reinforce the EU’s ability to respond to disasters (inside and outside the Union), the decision aims both at reforming the European Civil Protection Pool and at introducing the new capacity named ‘rescEU’: a reserve at European level of civil protection capabilities (e.g. such as aerial forest fighting planes, special water pumps, urban search and rescue and field hospitals and emergency medical teams).

RescEU is meant to complement existing capacities at the national level with the financial support of the European Commission. Moreover, the Commission may procure capacities on behalf of the Member States. The deployment and demobilisation of rescEU capacities is taken by the Commission in close coordination with the requesting Member State and the Member State owing, renting or leasing the capacity. Quality requirements of rescEU assets are defined by the European Commission, in consultation with the Member States.

The decision also foresees an increased Union financing to Member States for the adaptation, repair and operating costs of the Pool capacities or States’ capacities that are in turn included in European Civil Protection Pool and used to respond to future disasters.

Moreover, a Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network has been established, with a view to bringing together a full range of expertise on disasters (e.g. civil protection and disaster management actors, institutions, centres of excellence, universities, researchers and the European Commission).

A detailed legal framework of the cooperation in the civil protection domain has been further defined by the European Commission with the adoption of a set of implementing decisions.