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 Full text 
Tuesday, 12 February 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Union Civil Protection Mechanism (debate)

  Christos Stylianides, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I addressed this House a little more than a year ago to present our proposal, these proposals, to strengthen our European Union Civil Protection Mechanism. Today, after a year, Parliament is voting for the most ambitious European civil protection system that ever existed. And today, Parliament is voting for something that was really politically unthinkable a few years ago. Among friends, I have to be frank. It was really a very difficult and demanding job to persuade our Member States to accept this upgrade, but, at the end of the day, we managed together to get this very ambitious common purpose.

Today, I am proud of being a European citizen. I would like to express, first of all, my sincere gratitude to the rapporteur, Elisabetta Gardini, for her leadership, and of course my thanks to all colleagues, my dear colleague Željana Zovko, my dear colleague Fernandes and all other rapporteurs from all political groups, and of course my thanks go to the parliamentary groups and to the European Parliament that supported overwhelmingly this ground-breaking initiative.

Dear colleagues, with your political support, rescEU will be a reality ahead of the next forest fire season. And this is also thanks to your dedication to our common goal: to protect our citizens, to save lives and to save their livelihoods. You rightly insisted on a guarantee to have more disaster response means available immediately. Today, I can tell you this: we are working closely with our Member States to set in motion as soon as possible the so-called ‘rescEU transition phase’, so that disaster response capacities can be in place to respond to possible forest fires in Europe already this year, in 2019. The feedback from Member States so far is positive and I would also like to thank them here today for their positive approach.

Let us have no illusions. Natural disasters will not stop. On the contrary, they will become more frequent and more intense because of climate change. It is not fake news. It is happening now and we have to deal with this new phenomenon due to climate change. What we aim to do with rescEU is to better equip ourselves to face these disasters due to climate change.

Dear colleagues, with this new legislation we are also putting more emphasis on prevention, on preparedness. The European Parliament made it very clear that this was a priority, and we have done our best to put in place a system that offers more support to Member States to exchange information and learn from each other. Today, modestly, we mark the beginning of a new era for European civil protection. This is about a Europe that protects. We owe this, as I said, to our citizens.

I would like to conclude by saying once again that we should all be proud because of this achievement, and I thank you so much for your dedication. Thank you for your attention.

Last updated: 28 June 2019Legal notice