EU Commission proposal to amend the Union Civil Protection Mechanism for deliberation in Parliament
On 2 July, the Government submitted a communication to Parliament on the European Commission’s proposal to amend the Union Civil Protection Mechanism. This is particularly the case against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, which has given rise to the need to enhance the EU's preparedness to respond to broad and serious disasters and crises, especially in situations that simultaneously affect almost all Member States.
The Union Civil Protection Mechanism has become one of the most important instruments of international assistance in recent years. It covers all kinds of natural and man-made disasters, such as major disasters. The Mechanism can also be used to request and provide assistance in situations such as pandemics.
Any country can request assistance via the Union Civil Protection Mechanism if the scale of an emergency or disaster exceeds their response capacity.
The Commission proposal is part of the EU recovery plan and the Commission proposes EUR 3.1 billion to reinforce the Union Civil Protection Mechanism over 2021–2027.
The Commission proposes that it be given the right to acquire and manage rescEU capabilities and to provide transport and logistics arrangements for the delivery of assistance. EU level rescEU capabilities were set up as a safety net for overpowering situations where national resources and the capabilities tied to the Union Civil Protection Reserve are insufficient. In practice, rescEU capabilities have so far mainly been utilised to fight forest fires, but work on the EU's stockpile of medical equipment was set in motion in the spring. RescEU-preparedness will also be developed to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats (CBRN).
The Commission also wishes to strengthen the role of the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC).
The Union Civil Protection Mechanism is based on the resources of the Member States, and according to the Commission, European solidarity falls short in situations where several Member States face a crisis at the same time. The Commission believes that the Union Civil Protection Mechanism is expected to act more flexibly and independently at the EU level when Member States are unable to act in overpowering situations.
Finland supports the objective of the proposal to improve and enhance European Union preparedness to respond to broad and serious disasters and crises. If it works, the proposal could also contribute to Finland's national preparedness.
However, Finland emphasises that primary responsibility for developing rescue capabilities and preparedness rests with the Member States, and the Commission's actions play supportive and complementary role.
Wivi-Ann Wagello-Sjölund, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 640, [email protected]