The European Parliament’s Environment Committee on May 17 voted in favour of upgrades to the EU civil defence mechanism, which was tested to its limits by deadly forest fires, storms and floods in 2017.

The reported aim is to help EU member states respond faster and more effectively to natural and man-made disasters, by sharing civil protection assets more efficiently. The draft law, which will be tabled before the full House later this month, would set up a “RescEU” reserve of assets such as forest fire-fighting planes, high-capacity pumps, field hospitals and emergency medical teams, to use in all kinds of emergencies.

“The current system has shown its limitations,” said lead MEP Elisabetta Gardini (EPP, IT). “We saw this last summer, during the emergency of the forest fires that hit several countries at the same time, with a dramatic outcome in terms of loss of life. Natural disasters have also intensified as a result of climate change. And it is essential to give a response at European level, and time to act!”

According to Gardini, the mechanism will not replace those existing at national and regional level. Instead, it will complement their work to ensure more security for European citizens, especially in the case of disasters of particular magnitude.