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Minister of the Interior Mikkonen to attend EU coordination meeting on preparing for wildfires

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 5.9.2022 7.10
Press release

Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen will attend a coordination meeting convened by the European Commission and the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU on Monday 5 September. The meeting will discuss preparedness for wildfires caused by the climate crisis. The meeting will be attended by ministers responsible for the internal security in the EU Member States and senior officials.

During the past summer, wildfires caused by extreme weather events, such as high temperatures, recurrent heat waves and prolonged droughts, increased and intensified in Europe. Consequently, fire has destroyed over 750,000 hectares of forest in Europe this summer.

"The impacts of the climate crisis are already visible in Europe. The increasing number of extreme weather events put additional burden on rescue workers and tie up personnel. Neither the climate crisis nor the natural disasters caused by it respect national borders. In order to prepare for the impacts of climate change, we need EU-wide cooperation", says Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen

This year, the European Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) has received ten requests for assistance related to wildfires and has been able to respond to nearly all of them. Since June, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has sent firefighting aircraft on 27 occasions and helicopters on eight occasions to assist in extinguishing wildfires around Europe. 

However, the increased need for assistance has shown that the availability of aircraft and other fire extinguishing equipment must be improved both at national and EU level. Measures could be taken to prepare for forest fires in 2023, for example by increasing the number of firefighting aircraft and helicopters, improving preparedness for transferring rescue workers across national borders and organising joint training and exercises. 

Finland has good experiences of cooperating through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. In August, Finland sent 50 rescue workers to Greece through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to help extinguish wildfires.

"It is important that the EU Member States help each other. By contributing to the operations, Finnish rescue workers also learn valuable lessons from extinguishing wildfires in extremely difficult conditions, using new equipment and working with aerial firefighting assets. We must be prepared for the eventuality that climate change will increase and intensify the number of accidents and problems caused by extreme weather events also in Finland", says Minister of the Interior Mikkonen.  

Inquiries:

Mikko Jalo, Special Adviser, tel. +358 50 304 8522, [email protected] (requests for interviews with the Minister)

Pekka Tiainen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 50 456 4477, [email protected]