The EU Civil Protection Mechanism
The overall objective of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, (UCPM) is to strengthen cooperation between the EU Member States, 6 Participating States (North Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) and the UK in the field of civil protection, with a view to improve prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. When the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the Mechanism. Through the Mechanism, the European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond.
Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC)
The Emergency Response Coordination Centre, (ERCC) is the heart of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and coordinates the delivery of assistance to disaster stricken countries, such as relief items, expertise, civil protection teams and specialised equipment. The centre ensures the rapid deployment of emergency support and acts as a coordination hub between all the active members of the UCPM, the affected country, and civil protection and humanitarian experts. The centre operates 24/7 and can help any country inside or outside the EU affected by a major disaster upon request from the national authorities or a UN body.
European Civil Protection Pool
The European Civil Protection Pool (formerly Voluntary Pool) was established to advance European cooperation in civil protection and enable a faster, better-coordinated and more effective European response to man-made disasters and natural hazards. The Pool brings together resources from the States that are active in the UCPM, ready for deployment to a disaster zone at short notice. These resources can be rescue or medical teams, experts, specialised equipment or transportation. Whenever a disaster strikes and a request for assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is received, assistance is drawn from this Pool.
Belgium is a member of this pool. The Civil Protection has the following modules, which have been or are being approved by the EU: High Capacity Pumping (HCP) and Flood Rescue using Boats (FRUB).
In March 2019, the EU strengthened all components of its disaster risk management by upgrading its Civil Protection Mechanism. Through the strengthened Mechanism, the EU will better protect its citizens against disasters, be prepared and respond to all types of emergencies, thanks to the establishment of rescEU. RescEU includes a new European reserve of additional capacities (the ‘rescEU reserve’), that initially included firefighting planes and helicopters. However, RescEU will not be limited to forest fires but should also include a response to other types of emergencies, such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergencies, and through common stockpiling of medicine.