Civil protection in the EU
The tasks of civil protection in the EU are subject to the exclusive powers of the EU Member States. National authorities govern the resources and capabilities to response to critical situation, which may be used to support the other Member States or third countries. The EU tasks aim at coordination and supporting the national actions, in particular in case of operations conducted outside the EU territory.
At the moment, basic documents, which regulate the cooperation within the framework of civil protection, are the „Community Mechanism”, enabling and improving response to critical situation and the „Action Plan” to finance the activities in the area of preventing and preparedness.
The most important component of the „Mechanism” constitutes the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) – the unit of the European Commission, operating 24 hours a day and responsible for maintaining database, permanent monitoring of global situation and transferring possible requests for support. The MIC focal point in Poland is the National Rescue and Civil Protection Coordination Centre in the General Headquarters of the State Fire Service. Support teams of the Member States are sent within the “Mechanism” to operate within the EU and outside the Community territory. Actions of the teams are supported by the Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) and trainings and experts exchange system.
Considering the presence of new challenges for European security (combating terrorism, critical infrastructure protection, threats caused by serious disasters, e.g. tsunami, need for aid transport improvement), there was a number of initiatives taken in the years 2005-2006 in order to strengthen and harmonize civil protection at the EU level.
The Project to change the „Mechanism” aims at extending the list of threats, in case of which the „Mechanism” may be launched and adding the provisions on modules (expert national units for civil protection), development of rapid alert systems and defining the function of the EU institutions in case of a disaster outside its territory in a precise manner.
The aim of establishing the new “Civil Protection Financial Instrument” is to replace the previous „Action Plan” and work out transparent legal basics to finance strengthening of preparedness, preventing and response. The new solution determined in the “Instrument” is an opportunity to co-finance transport or equipment from the EC funds in case when the measures of the Member States runs out. "Instrument" was adopted on March 2007 (2007/162/EC,Euratom: Council Decision of 5 March 2007 establishing a Civil Protection Financial Instrument).
Currently, "Mechanism" is subject to discussions on the EU forum. Poland participates on new legal act in an active manner.
In the course of the last years, actions to strengthen security of the European Union citizens were taken within all the EU pillars. In connection with the above, the interdisciplinary cooperation was intensified, in particular in the area of the European Security and Defence Policy, health protection, crisis management and terrorism combating. Works on the “European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection” and “The EU coordination guide for critical and emergency situations” are under way. Opportunities to use military resources for civil protection operations purposes, in particular in the scope of transport, are also discussed.
Further increase of the importance of civil protection at the EU level and closer connections of these issues with widely-understood EU security policy are estimated in future.
Prepared by Mrs. Małgorzata Jankowska, Crisis Management and Defence Department of the Ministry of Interior and Administration
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