Europe and other regions of the world regularly suffer from major disasters, both natural and caused by man. Floods, tornados, forest fires and earthquakes, as well as technological accidents such as factory explosions and chemical spills, occur frequently. In some cases, countries are able to cope with such disasters on their own but often they need swift emergency assistance from abroad. This is where the Community strategy and programme in the field of civil protection comes in.
The new Civil Protection Financial Instrument replaces the old generation of programmes. The new instrument provides the legal framework for the financing of preparedness and rapid response actions inside and outside the EU. The Civil Protection Financial Instrument is thus designed to ensure a visible expression of European solidarity towards countries affected by major emergencies by facilitating the provision of assistance through the mobilisation of Member States' intervention.
At EU level, the existing legislative framework governing civil protection cooperation has been strengthened over the past few years and a series of proposals have been tabled to contribute to a more effective and well coordinated response to major disasters occurring inside or outside the EU. The new measures allow the Commission to better address any shortage of transport and equipment needed at the site of a disaster. Moreover, additional measures contribute to the further development of early warning systems, improved coordination and the provision of logistical support and sharing between national crisis centres to maximise the effectiveness of the response.
The new Civil Protection Financial Instrument will finance studies, surveys, modelling and scenario building to facilitate the sharing of knowledge. Best practices and information to enhance prevention, preparedness and effective response are also supported. The Civil Protection Financial Instrument (the action programme) is open to any legal person (public or private) established in one of the EU Member States or Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The programme is also open to candidate countries.
In addition to the Community Action Programme on Civil Protection, the EEA EFTA States participate in the interlinked Community Mechanism for Civil Protection, the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), and the Crisis Communication System CECIS. The main role of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection is to facilitate cooperation in civil protection assistance interventions in the event of major emergencies which require an urgent response. This also applies to situations where there may be an imminent threat of such major emergencies. It is therefore a tool that enhances Community cooperation in civil protection matters.