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A7-0283/2011

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REPORT     
PDF 271kWORD 173k
19 July 2011
PE 462.621v02-00 A7-0283/2011

on ‘Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance’

(2011/2023 INI))

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Rapporteur: Elisabetta Gardini

Rapporteur for the opinion (*): Michèle Striffler, Committee on Development

(*) Associated committee – Rule 50 of the Rules of Procedure

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Development (*)
 OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on ‘Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance’

(2011/2023 (INI))

The European Parliament,

–    having regard to Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which states that ‘the Union shall encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing and protecting against natural or man-made disasters’,

-    having regard to Article 122 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

-     having regard to Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (the solidarity clause), which lays down that ‘the Union and the Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or victim of a natural or man-made disaster’,

-    having regard to Article 23 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

-    having regard to the 1994 Oslo Guidelines, reviewed in 2001, on the use of foreign military and civil defence assets in disaster relief,

-    having regard to the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, signed on 18 December 2007 by the Presidents of the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the Commission,

–    having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of 26 October 2010 entitled ‘Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance’ (COM(2010)0600),

–    having regard to the Communication of the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of 5 March 2008 on reinforcing the Union’s disaster response capacity (COM(2008)0130),

–    having regard to the report by Michel Barnier entitled ‘For a European civil protection force: Europe Aid’, published in May 2006,

–    having regard to the Council conclusions of 14 December 2010 welcoming the objectives outlined in the Commission’s Communication of 26 October 2010 aiming at a more predictable, effective, efficient, coherent and visible European response to disasters,

–    having regard to the Council conclusions of December 2007 inviting the Commission to make the best use of the Community Civil Protection Mechanism and to strengthen cooperation between Member States,

–    having regard to Council Decision 2007/162/EC, Euratom, of 5 March 2007 establishing a Civil Protection Financial Instrument(1) and Council Decision 2007/779/EC of 8 November 2007 amending Council Decision 2001/792/EC of 23 October 2001 establishing a Community Civil Protection Mechanism(2),

–    having regard to its resolutions of 14 December 2010 on setting up an EU rapid response capability(3), of 10 February 2010 on the recent earthquake in Haiti(4), of 16 September 2009 on forest fires in the summer of 2009(5), of 19 June 2008 on stepping up the Union’s disaster response capacity(6) and of 4 September 2007 on this summer’s natural disasters(7),

–    having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–    having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0283/2011),

(Ex AM 8( Or. EN) of FdR F:\DocEP\AM\867465EN.doc){AM\EN\867465}

A. whereas the European Union and its Member States are faced with many risks, for example: earthquakes and tsunamis; fires, including forest fires; flooding and landslides; industrial and nuclear accidents; terrorist attacks; natural disasters and major pandemics; whereas there has been a dramatic increase in the number and severity of these natural and man-made disasters affecting the Union and its citizens, as well as other countries and regions around the world, as tragically demonstrated by the recent severe catastrophe in Japan, which was hit by a combination of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe, with a corresponding increase in the loss of life and in economic, social and environmental damage and damage to cultural heritage, and whereas we cannot exclude the possibility of such outlier events of a non-predictable magnitude happening at any time, in which case the European disaster response would be extremely useful, as national capacities could be challenged to their limits,

B.  whereas situations of extreme drought and forest fires have increased in frequency and scale in Europe, which means that the relevant scientific research needs to be further developed, with a view to improving risk assessment mechanisms, systems of prevention and means of combating these phenomena,

C. whereas the increasing rate of climate change and depletion of natural capital will further increase the likelihood of more frequent and more intense natural disasters,

D. whereas in 2008, the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) acknowledged the link between disaster risk reduction and climate change in the Bali Action Plan,

E.  whereas in 2010, the UNFCCC Cancun Adaptation Framework formally recognised disaster risk reduction as an essential element of climate change adaptation and encouraged governments to consider linking adaptation measures to the Hyogo Framework for Action,

F.  whereas the recent tragedies, such as the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods, have demonstrated that the main tools available to the EU for responding to disasters (humanitarian aid and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism) proved to be working well for what they were designed for and given the circumstances, but whereas there is a vital need to further reinforce the coordination of the response to disasters affecting the European Union, both within and outside its borders, as well as scope for improvement in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and visibility of the EU assistance as a whole,

G. whereas, moreover, during a number of crises, particularly the tsunami of 26 December 2004, many questions were raised about the lack of systematic scenarios or protocols at European level for responding to the risks and the inadequate visibility of Europe’s action in relation to the overall effort,

H. whereas various arrangements involving pre-identified Member States’ assets and EU-funded assets have been successfully tested in pilot schemes initiated by the European Parliament(8),

I.   whereas the European Parliament has consistently called on the Commission to present legislative proposals on the creation of an EU Civil Protection Force, fully respecting the subsidiarity principle, and thus complementing Member States’ efforts, in line with Article 196 TFEU,

J.   whereas the solidarity clause under Article 222 of the TFEU establishes the obligation for Member States to assist each other in the event of a natural or man-made disaster on EU territory,

K. whereas immediate coordination, coherence and communication within the EU and with international actors is crucial; whereas the current European coordination on the ground of several teams with differing chains of command inevitably leads to duplicating efforts and overlaps and proves costly in terms of human resources, coordination and efficiency; and whereas, given the context of the economic and financial crisis, the European Union must develop a protection system based on the sharing and rationalisation of existing resources without any increase in overall expenditure,

L.  whereas, in the wake of the recent disaster in Japan, the Japanese government asked the EU to form a single compact civil protection team, coordinated by the Commission, for the distribution of aid, rather than sending several civil protection teams from different Member States at different times; whereas stepping up operational coordination during that disaster made it possible to improve EU assistance as a whole in terms of cost-effectiveness, coherence and visibility,

M. whereas political coherence must be ensured at EU level in view of the respective institutional roles without hindering or slowing down disaster response operations, and whereas this should be built on existing mechanisms without creating new structures,

N. whereas a culture of disaster prevention and preparedness should be mainstreamed in development policies, plans and programmes, in order to address some of the underlying causes of disasters,

O. whereas real-time prevention needs to be developed at all operational stages: monitoring, including through use of satellite data; issuing earlywarnings; sounding the alarm and subsequently responding and assisting the population potentially at risk,

P.  whereas the EU supports the central role of the United Nations, in particular that of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in coordinating international relief in third countries

Q. whereas an integrated European all-hazards approach, aimed at responding to crises at all stages of their life cycles, is the most effective strategy to deal with disasters; whereas this approach should link disaster prevention (including mitigation and risk reduction), preparedness, response and recovery, within the broad context of sustainable development; whereas it is of great importance to put in place operational tools such as an operational risk prevention plan (including reference procedures and planning tools); whereas there is a need for the EU to make real investments in the prevention and prediction of risks and whereas the EU should pursue an equally ambitious approach with regard to disaster prevention and preparedness as well as response,

R.  whereas the Regulation establishing the Solidarity Fund contains prior conditions which hinder and delay the Fund’s use in certain disaster situations, particularly in relation to the amounts and types of eligible expenditure, as well as the inflexibility of the deadlines and procedures,

S.  whereas, during a crisis, it is essential for rescue teams to have access to precise information as soon as possible so as to distribute basic necessities, equipment and critical resources, and whereas telecommunications are therefore the most important link in the crisis management chain,

T.  whereas conventional communications links and resources may be overwhelmed or destroyed in a crisis situation,

U. whereas the usefulness of the European Space Policy and the positive results achieved by the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES) launched by the Commission to use satellite data and information, and its practical application in the civil protection sector and also through the Emergency Response Core Service, has already been recognised by the Commission and the Member States,

1.  Welcomes the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance’ and its objectives; emphasises that the proposals outlined in the Communication should be further examined to fulfil the expectations for an enhanced, coordinated, consistent, effective, cost-efficient and visible cohesive and comprehensive European response;

2.  Underlines the need to rationalise and simplify the functioning of current European disaster response and to optimise the resources available for common benefit, whilst encouraging all Member States to contribute and thus guarantee European solidarity; considers, accordingly, that the EU’s reaction capacity should form part of an integrated multi-risk approach; moreover,it should carry out ‘bottom-up’ delegated resources and information management:in other words, the initiative could come from the Member States, which would provide voluntary resources and expertise;

3.  Invites the Commission, when setting up the European disaster response capability, to take into account the Solidarity Clause and its implementation arrangements, which need to be adopted as a matter of urgency and which will ensure a more effective and coherent response to disasters inside and outside the European Union;

4.  Reiterates the need for the Solidarity Fund Regulation to be revised so as to adapt the eligibility criteria to the characteristics of each region and each disaster, including slowly-evolving disasters such as drought, and enable mobilisation to be more flexible and timely;

5.  Reasserts that disaster preparation, prevention and response cannot be dissociated from each other and that it would therefore be advisable to consolidate an integrated approach to tackling catastrophes;

6.  Endorses the need for a qualitative shift from the current ad hoc coordination to a predictable and pre-planned system within the EU Civil Protection Mechanism based on pre-identified assets available for immediate deployment in EU disaster relief operations and on any other means and resources which Member States may consider appropriate for deployment; stresses the need to introduce a system for monitoring, supervising and developing EU action in disaster relief operations;

7.  Calls on the Commission to bring forward proposals as soon as possible for establishing, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, an EU civil protection force, based on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and enabling the Union to bring together the resources necessary for providing civil protection and immediate emergency relief aid to the victims; believes that the EU response should build on the existing roles and capacities of European civil protection forces and ensure that current gaps and bottlenecks are addressed;

8.  Agrees that the European disaster response should build both on a European emergency response capacity through the strengthening of the European Civil Protection Mechanism based on the capacities and availability of pre-identified and therefore predictable Member States’ emergency assets and on a European emergency response centre as the cornerstones of such a strategy, as outlined in the Communication of 26 October 2010; underlines that these developments should follow an all-hazards approach, bringing together all relevant players – in particular civil society – including non-governmental organisations and volunteers, for joined-up action, and should exploit synergies among the various existing tools and instruments;

9.        Considers that the all-hazards approach should go hand in hand with greater flexibility in reacting to the different categories of risk, which need to be considered on a case-by-case basis; this in turn calls for the development of a decentralised capacity for analysis and the planning of measures required in the light of the nature, probability and seriousness of the risks;

10. In addition, calls for the EU’s disaster reaction capacity to make use of Europe’s outermost regions and overseas territories, which can form bases for facilitating logistics operations and, for pre-positioning of the EU’s resources in every ocean;

11. Calls on the Commission to draw up and forward to Parliament a list of Community instruments funding disaster prevention activities, with a view to evaluating the possibility of incorporating disaster prevention programmes to a greater extent in existing EU funding programmes, as requested by the Council in its draft conclusions on a Community framework on disaster prevention within the EU (document No 15394/09 of 12 November 2009);

12.  Emphasises that the European disaster response system should respect the principle of subsidiarity both of the Member States (who should be able to use their own assets, especially in any case of conflicting national needs) and of the United Nations, i.e. that it should respect the national, regional and local competences of each Member State on the one hand – taking into account the crucial role those authorities play in the disaster-management cycle, particularly as in many Member States legislative power is exercised at a local or regional level – and the coordinating role played by the United Nations in disaster relief operations when acting outside the EU on the other; points out that this strategy should be complementary to that of the UN, which sees clear value added in creating a European pole with a response capability;

13. Points out that the cross-border nature of disasters implies that the EU should coordinate its resources and work with third countries, not least in its neighbourhood where Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) countries are concerned;

14. Supports the Commission’s proposal to establish a European emergency response capacity, including arrangements to guarantee the more predictable availability of Member States’ key assets, inter alia by setting up a pool of pre-identified assets, available within pre-agreed response times, to be deployed under a voluntary commitment by Member States to make those assets available on a voluntary basis for European disaster relief interventions both inside and outside the Union at national, regional and local level; takes the view that, in this way, and by assisting people affected by natural disasters such as major fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and tidal waves, and also by accidents at sea, oil spills or nuclear risks, the European added value of EU interventions will be considerably enhanced;

15. Points out that certain areas, such as coastal, insular and mountainous areas, are extremely vulnerable on account of their geography, and calls for special attention to be paid to these areas;

16. Notes that the European regions situated on the EU’s borders may be affected by disasters occurring in regions which are part of third countries, in which case intervention is even more difficult; proposes that specific measures be developed to support these regions and that special attention be paid to disasters caused by people or industrial accidents, which require different strategies;

17. Believes that particular attention should be paid to fires, for which targeted strategies and actions are needed;

18. Affirms the need to adhere to the ‘polluter pays’ principle as regards liability for environmental damage and the recovery of costs related to disaster response from private entities responsible for damage;

European Emergency Response Capacity

19. Considers that the pool of pre-identified capacities, resources and assets made available on a voluntary basis for EU disaster relief interventions, both inside and outside the Union, will constitute the nucleus of the EU relief capability, which could be complemented by additional ad hoc offers from the Member States; recommends that a clear and detailed scheme of incentives should be designed in order to permit Member States to commit sufficient capacities to the voluntary pool without increasing the overall spending of the Member States;

20.  Asks for the creation, within the future EU Civil Protection Force, of specific mechanisms which will enable the EU to deal with instances of large-scale pollution caused by offshore oil and gas installations;

21. Recalls the central role of the United Nations in coordinating the disaster response efforts of the international community;

22.  Underlines that a stronger EU disaster response capacity will provide a coherent EU contribution to the overall UN-led relief effort and coordination role;

23.  Affirms that EU-funded assets managed by Member States should further supplement the Member States’ assets available for relief operations; notes that these should build on models developed through preparatory actions which have been successfully tested in recent emergencies both inside and outside Europe, such as the multinational flood response unit for the Baltic countries and the supplementary tactical reserve for aerial fire-fighting;

24. Calls on the Commission, along with the Member States, to identify existing capacity gaps. The creation of EU-level assets should be considered, avoiding any form of competition and/or overlap with national assets, in order to fill existing capacity gaps where they would result in significant savings for the EU as a whole or enable access to assets that are not available for Member States acting alone, thus offering a good model for burden-sharing;

25. Considers that it is also important to identify shortcomings in resources and to clarify precisely how the EU could contribute to Member States’ efforts to improve their preparedness; takes the view that more effective utilisation of existing resources will prevent the creation of additional financial and administrative red tape, especially in the context of regional and local administration;

26. Calls on the Commission to aim at EU involvement in terms of the provision of resources, capacities and coordination in connection with disasters which take place in the EU and directly affect its citizens;

27. Takes the view that the main focus should be on making full and timely use of the financial resources available, as well as on simplifying all the administrative procedures involved in mobilising those resources; considers that steps must also be taken to ensure that emergency humanitarian assistance reaches people affected by disasters without delay;

28. Considers advanced planning and the preparation of operations by developing reference scenarios and mapping Member States’ assets potentially available for deployment in EU disaster relief operations and contingency planning as key elements of an enhanced EU disaster response and essential for rapid deployment and immediate appropriate response to each emergency; calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement these measures immediately and without prejudice to other actions; calls, finally, on the Commission to launch a feasibility study on the merits of setting up, allocating European research budget funding to, and naming European reference laboratories to combat bioterrorism and identify victims;

29.  Calls in particular for adequate planning for specific contingencies to respond to man-made disasters related to oil spills, nuclear installations or involving hazardous substances both on land and at sea;

European Emergency Response Centre

30.  Welcomes the Commission’s decision to merge the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) and ECHO humanitarian aid crisis room to create a genuine 24/7 Emergency Response Centre as a planning and operational coordination platform as a step in the right direction and calls for this also to be implemented in real-time cooperation by the Member States, in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, in the areas of monitoring, issuing early-warnings and sounding the alarm; calls on the Commission to strengthen the Centre to enable it to serve as the central hub for prompt and effective coordination of all European in-kind assistance as well as financial humanitarian aid contributions; stipulates that it should function as the single entry point for requests for assistance related to all types of natural and man-made disasters in order to allow a coherent EU response;

31.  Calls for an effective merging of the ECHO crisis room and the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), whilst ensuring adequate funding;

32.  Calls on the Commission to actively involve the new European Emergency Response Centre in the two Community tools to protect forests from forest fires: EFFIS and EFFICS;

33.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate actions in case of emergency, simplifying and optimising the existing universal service and the 112 emergency number;

34.  Insists that decisions on deploying assets from the pool of assets be made quickly by the Emergency Response Centre along with Member States, in order to ensure predictable, immediate and effective assistance to victims and avoid delays, duplications and overlaps;

35.  Believes that a list of the key assets that could be made available by Member States for the EU emergency response to these scenarios should be identified and mapped;

36.  Calls for clarity and coherence of EU action in view of the respective institutional roles of the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European External Action Service (EEAS) which should be mindful of their respective powers and respect the limits of each others’ mandates; calls therefore on the Commission and the EEAS to develop appropriate working arrangements and transparent rules with a view to ensuring, where possible, close cooperation and coordination of issues pertaining to EU disaster response, building on existing mechanisms without slowing down relief operations; underlines the need for flexible, simple and rapid inter-service coordination involving only the relevant services, which should respond within a very short timeframe whilst avoiding red tape; emphasises that EU humanitarian aid should be provided irrespective of all political considerations, while adhering to internationally agreed humanitarian principles;

37.  Emphasises the increased risk of disasters caused by forest fires, primarily because of climate change, which is instrumental in the outbreak of large forest fires; calls on the Commission to set up a special unit within its new European Emergency Response Centre to deal with this risk;

38.      Emphasises that, as a last resort and in compliance with the Oslo Guidelines, the use of military means under civilian oversight often constitutes an important contribution to disaster response, particularly for specialised assets, strategic lifting or heavy engineering; stresses that coordination of the use of all the capabilities available – civil and military – and Member States’ crisis management assets should be enhanced in order to avoid costly duplications;

Logistics and transport and telecommunications

39.  Recognises that the use of military assets – transport, logistics, security – to support humanitarian operations may provide key back-up, particularly in the case of large-scale natural disasters; reiterates that these military assets should be used in very specific circumstances and as a last resort, in accordance with United Nations recommendations;

40. Calls for shared, effective logistics arrangements, notably including the EU-funded all-purpose technical assistance and support teams (TAST) that could support any EU or Member States’ officials and teams on the ground, notably in cases of collapsed local infrastructure;

41.  Calls for technical assistance and support teams to be mobilised in the event of disasters and for recommendations to be made on the way in which those teams can provide more effective support to those affected by disasters;

42.  Proposes, with a view to maximising efficiency and the proper use of existing capacity, that thought be given to pooling the consular resources of the Member States in order to improve the speed and quality of our global response by making optimum use of the resources already available; recommends in this respect that an assessment be made of the different Member States’ consular capacities in order to take stock of the European Union’s current worldwide resources;

43.  Asks that the existing relief systems coordinated by the United Nations be taken into account, whilst calling for improved, strengthened, more cost-effective and well-coordinated transport for all in-kind assistance to disaster sites, in particular through streamlined simplified procedures, an increased co-financing rate and the introduction of new ways of allowing access to additional transport capacities, possibly through framework contracts;

44.  Recalls the existing monitoring and prevention tools (especially in-situ observation devices) such as those provided by the European Union’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme or the INSPIRE and GALILEO programmes which could monitor areas potentially at risk and thus prepare more effectively for providing disaster relief to the victims; calls on the Commission to explore the possibility of equipping the EU with a dedicated and secure telecommunications capacity and integrated crisis management solutions ranging from prevention to recovery; calls on the Commission to make optimum use of the existing and future solutions and capacity provided by telecommunications satellites in order to facilitate the development of services for citizens in the fields of public security and emergency response, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, Member States and stakeholders (private operators, industry);

45.  Calls on the Commission to develop a communication and information network, exploring in particular the use of telecommunications capacity, including satellites, in order to give rescue teams access to rapid and detailed information to facilitate the effective distribution of basic necessities and of equipment essential for social reorganisation in the wake of disasters;

Communication, Visibility, Training, Research

46.  Calls for a comprehensive communications strategy, involving all EU institutions, Member States, social partners and civil society that will improve the overall visibility and transparency of European actions in beneficiary countries as well as among European citizens, while ensuring that disaster relief is never subordinate to trading or political and strategic concerns; considers that this strategy should seek to simplify and standardise communication methods and tools; proposes to this end the establishment, for example, of a standard dress code and logo in conjunction with national badges for all European staff and the appointment of a single spokesperson responsible for communications concerned with emergency response; calls for any communications strategy to ensure a clear distinction between humanitarian assistance and military activities;

47.  Emphasises that information is another vital component of an effective disaster prevention and response policy at all levels and that the changing risk scenario requires a continuous updating of knowledge, solid and comparable data on the frequency of occurrence, risks and the associated consequences of disasters and related analytical tools; therefore calls for coordinated action, greater availability and systematic dissemination of technical and scientific information and expertise and the sharing of best practices, including studies and putting into practice lessons learnt, such as the experience gained through projects implemented in the past under the Community’s INTERREG initiative;

48.  Highlights the need to raise awareness of the procedures to be adopted when faced with disaster situations, paying particular attention to training young people, from school age on; calls on the Commission to foster, with the involvement of schools and specific voluntary associations, the culture of planning, prevention and resilience which is a prerequisite for optimising civil protection work;

49. Points to the key role of regional and local authorities, which are in the front line when disasters – above all, cross-border disasters – occur, and whose involvement can raise the EU’s visibility among its citizens; therefore calls on the Commission to ensure that the Member States involve their regional and local authorities in disaster response from an early stage, building on the multi-level governance model applied in the area of cohesion policy, through a win-win communication strategy for all the actors involved in the response mechanism;

50.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to develop a clear information and prevention system for all European citizens when they travel, both within the EU and outside the Member States; proposes, to this end, that European passports bear the 112 emergency number with clear indications of its EU-wide accessibility, so that it may be used by travellers within the EU, as well as a reference to Article 23 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which lays down that ‘every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a third country in which the Member State of which he is a national is not represented, be entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any Member State (...)’, which can be used by travellers to non-Member States;

51. Calls for efforts to communicate the pan-European emergency call number ‘112’ more effectively to European citizens and third-country nationals in the EU, particularly by making use of written and audiovisual media and public notices, so that all citizens can use it automatically to report any disaster that occurs in the territory of the EU;

52. Considers that the dedicated training of European staff and experts in disaster response would make it possible, through ‘common core’ training and specialised modules, to develop awareness of common European working methods and response procedures; in this framework, recommends joint disaster response exercises between civil and military logistic units;

Disaster Response, preparedness and prevention

53.  Notes that preventing disasters is often more cost-effective than combating them; therefore, stresses the vital need to complement the policy for enhancing the EU’s emergency reaction capacity by stepping up the EU’s and Member States’ risk prediction and prevention policies and encourages the Commission to prepare a comprehensive and innovative EU strategy on disaster risk reduction; calls for sufficient resources to be dedicated to early identification of possible disasters and asks the Commission to ensure that the revision of the Structural Funds and the Solidarity Fund are used to encourage the development of policies and investments in these areas; furthermore, calls for improved education on disaster prevention, investment in the prevention of disasters and climate change, appropriate legislation on water management and efficient risk management and for close monitoring of the implementation of the Floods Directive at regional and local level; points out, in this context, that regional and local authorities play a key role in disaster prevention by implementing risk prevention strategies at territorial level, including joint interventions involving teams from different countries;

54. Reiterates its position that, in view of the interconnections between drought, forest fires and desertification, the Commission should present a proposal, similar to the Floods Directive, to promote the adoption of an EU policy on water scarcity, drought and adaptation to climate change; also reiterates, in this context, the importance of establishing the European Drought Observatory, which would be responsible for studying, mitigating and monitoring the effects of drought;

55. Reiterates, likewise, its call for the Commission to adopt a directive on preventing and managing fires, which should include the regular collection of data, preparation of maps and identification of areas at risk, preparation of fire risk management plans, identification by the Member States of the resources allocated and facilities available, coordination of the various administrations, minimum requirements for training crews and establishment of environmental responsibility and the corresponding penalties;

56. Considers that further exploitation of the opportunities offered in the context of the European Territorial Objective is of crucial importance; believes, in this connection, that the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) can constitute an important instrument for further strengthening transnational, cross-border and interregional cooperation, even with countries which are not EU Member States; sees the development of interregional cooperation across national borders as evidence of the particularly important contribution made by the regions to rapid assistance for the purposes of civil protection; considers that this fruitful cooperation extends, inter alia, to the shared aim of mapping risks and assessing potential threats, and that it is here that the EU can make a valuable and visible contribution to even more effective and efficient cooperation, above all by improving coordination;

57. Points out that, in the European Year of Volunteering, it would be symbolic and worthwhile to support those countries which seek to promote such activities and organisations;

58. Invites the Commission to bring forward ambitious legislative proposals to that effect as quickly as possible but not later than by the end of 2011;

59. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)

OJ L 71, 10.3.2007, p. 9.

(2)

OJ L 314, 1.12.2007, p. 9.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0465.

(4)

OJ C 341E, 16.12.2010, p. 5.

(5)

OJ C 224E, 19.8.2010, p. 1.

(6)

OJ C 286E, 27.11.2009, p. 15.

(7)

OJ C 187E, 24.7.2008, p. 55.

(8)

             Notably the pilot project to step up cooperation between Member States on combating forest fires (2008) and the preparatory action on an EU rapid response capability (2008-2010).


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

We are living at a time where more and more disasters occur. Last year Europe had to face a number of very severe disasters, including flash and large-scale floods, heavy storms and forest fires, not to mention the ash cloud after the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. As well outside Europe, some very severe disasters stroke, causing an enormous number of casualties and huge destruction, namely the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods. The most damaging oil spill ever happened in the Gulf of Mexico after explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling well and the Sahel was hit by severe droughts. Now the world is struck by the dramatic happenings in Japan, hit by a combination of a strong earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear catastrophe.

Worldwide the recorded number of disasters in one year has risen fivefold during the last 35 years to nearly 400 today. Recorded disasters within Europe over the past 20 years have killed almost 90000 people, affected more than 29 million and caused € 211 billion in economic losses.

Against the background of the recent dramatic increase in natural and man-made disasters both inside and outside the European Union, your rapporteur asks for more efficiency in all stages of the European disaster management cycle, including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, while optimising economic resources during times of austerity. This approach is supported overwhelmingly by approximately 90% of the European citizens who expect the EU to do more to help their country when struck by a disaster, while a similar number endorses EU humanitarian actions outside the EU. This aim is also reflected in the Lisbon Treaty which introduces new legal bases for both Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid in order to ensure a rapid and effective response to disasters happening inside and outside the EU.

Since this report focuses on the disaster response, your rapporteur would like to underline that the response needs to be enhanced through pre-identification of the assets available in the Member States placed at the disposal of the European Civil Protection Mechanism on a voluntary basis. This would be an important move away from the current ad hoc response to disasters, towards an advance planning through the development of reference scenarios, mapping of Member States' assets and contingency planning.

Moreover your rapporteur favours a simplification of the European Civil Protection Mechanism considered to be too bureaucratic. In this context she welcomes the merge of the MIC and Echo crisis room and the creation of a genuine 24/7 Emergency Response Centre which in agreement with the Member States would take decisions on the assets to be deployed in the event of a disaster in order to ensure an immediate and effective assistance to the victims.

To enhance European disaster response even more your rapporteur asks the Commission to come up as soon as possible with a proposal on an EU Civil Protection Force based on the Emergency Response Centre.

Another crucial point is the need for better coordination among all actors to avoid overlapping and duplication of efforts both on the political and on the operational side - which each should function autonomously in order not to impede the rapid and effective help for the victims of the disaster.

Finally, your rapporteur would like to stress that it is important that all Member States contribute, in the spirit of European solidarity, to the European disaster response. A scheme of incentives to permit the Member States to commit sufficient capacities to the voluntary pool without actually increasing their overall spending could boost offers. In other words, the use of resources available in Member States should be optimised for common benefit, avoiding duplication of structures, efforts or expenses.


OPINION of the Committee on Development (*) (16.6.2011)

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance

(2011/2023(INI))

Rapporteur(*): Michèle Striffler

(*) Associated committee - Rule 50 of the Rules of Procedure

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1. Reiterates that the European Union should respect humanitarian principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence) to meet humanitarian needs outside the EU and that the use of civil protection resources must be needs-based and must complement and be consistent with humanitarian aid, with a view to the subsequent medium and long-term development strategies; emphasises that these principles are not dogma but stem from operational efficiency considerations;

2. Encourages the Commission to support the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to keep working towards the definition of a common methodological framework for assessing needs by seeking the systematic involvement of local stakeholders, including non-state stakeholders;

3. Stresses the importance of developing relief asset pre-positioning capacities in order to improve the speed at which humanitarian organisations respond to disasters; notes that the development of depots/hubs reflects the effectiveness of this approach in terms of speed, quality and cost efficiency, and calls on the Commission to continue to provide financial support in this field; in this respect, endorses the recommendations of the Barnier report in 2006 that the EU’s outermost regions should be used, on a non-exclusive basis, as support bases to facilitate the pre-positioning of vital products and logistics, thus making it easier to deploy the available European human and material resources in the event of an urgent humanitarian intervention outside the EU; highlights the importance of flexibility in terms of coordination and resource management in ensuring the speed and adequacy of humanitarian assistance and disaster response;

4. Calls for an increase in funding and the development of capabilities and resources in order to ensure that humanitarian aid and civil protection remain purely civilian tasks;

5. Recognises that the use of military assets – transport, logistics, security – to support humanitarian operations may provide key back-up, particularly in the case of large-scale natural disasters; reiterates that these military assets should be used in very specific circumstances and as a last resort, in accordance with United Nations recommendations;

6. Welcomes the proposal to create a European Emergency Response Centre; asks for the introduction of specific and transparent rules on cooperation and coordination between the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Commission, pointing out that humanitarian aid is not a policy instrument for crisis management;

7. Reaffirms the core role played by the OCHA in coordinating international humanitarian action;

8. Calls on the Commission to make active efforts to ensure the visibility of the resources and capabilities deployed in the field, particularly through the use of EU symbols in conjunction with national badges.

9. Calls on the Commission to develop a communication and information network, exploring in particular the use of telecommunications capacity, including satellites, in order to give rescue teams access to rapid and detailed information to facilitate the effective distribution of basic necessities and of equipment essential for social reorganisation in the wake of disasters;

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

14.6.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Michael Cashman, Ricardo Cortés Lastra, Corina Creţu, Leonidas Donskis, Charles Goerens, Catherine Grèze, András Gyürk, Filip Kaczmarek, Franziska Keller, Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez, Gay Mitchell, Norbert Neuser, Maurice Ponga, Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, Michèle Striffler, Alf Svensson, Eleni Theocharous, Ivo Vajgl, Iva Zanicchi

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Kriton Arsenis, Isabella Lövin, Csaba Őry


OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (23.6.2011)

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

on ‘Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance’

(2011/2023(INI))

Rapporteur: László Tőkés

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Stresses the new role granted by the Treaty of Lisbon to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission (HR/VP) of coordinating EU operations in third countries to guarantee consistency between the EU’s crisis response and the overall political and security elements involved; urges that working arrangements be developed among all relevant services dealing with emergency response and crisis management in the Commission and the EEAS, including EU Delegations;

2.  Underlines the need to enhance coherence in the use of the different EU instruments, some of which fall under the responsibility of the HR/VP as well as to improve coordination with common security and defence policy (CSDP) civil or military missions which are already on the ground or which could be set up in the aftermath of a disaster; insists on the linkage between crisis prevention, disaster response and post-disaster reconstruction;

3.  Emphasises that, as a last resort and in compliance with the Oslo Guidelines, the use of military means under civilian oversight often constitutes an important contribution to disaster response, particularly for specialised assets, strategic lift or heavy engineering; stresses that coordination of the use of all the capabilities available – civil and military – and Member States’ crisis management assets should be enhanced in order to avoid costly duplications;

4.  Calls on the Commission, along with Member States, to identify existing capacity gaps and to develop a time frame and clear targets for Member States to properly develop their disaster response capabilities in order to ensure fair burden-sharing between Member States, while the creation of additional EU-level assets should only be considered where they would result in considerable synergies for the EU as a whole;

5.  Insists on the need to develop a comprehensive communication strategy to project a common and coherent image of the EU’s disaster response, consistent with its values and policies, in order to increase the visibility of the EU in beneficiary countries as well as a better understanding of EU action among European citizens; points to the need to set up an EU civil protection force and act upon Parliament’s repeated calls to implement the proposals set out in the 2006 Barnier report; stresses that the European Union should reaffirm through disaster relief the commitment of the European people to the value of solidarity;

6.  Points out that the cross-border nature of disasters implies that the EU should coordinate its resources and work with third countries, not least in its neighbourhood where Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) countries are concerned;

7.  Recalls the central role of the United Nations in coordinating the disaster response efforts of the international community;

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

21.6.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

53

2

0

Members present for the final vote

Gabriele Albertini, Sir Robert Atkins, Bastiaan Belder, Franziska Katharina Brantner, Frieda Brepoels, Elmar Brok, Arnaud Danjean, Mário David, Michael Gahler, Marietta Giannakou, Andrzej Grzyb, Heidi Hautala, Anna Ibrisagic, Ioannis Kasoulides, Tunne Kelam, Andrey Kovatchev, Eduard Kukan, Vytautas Landsbergis, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Krzysztof Lisek, Sabine Lösing, Barry Madlener, Kyriakos Mavronikolas, Francisco José Millán Mon, María Muñiz De Urquiza, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Norica Nicolai, Kristiina Ojuland, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Cristian Dan Preda, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Nikolaos Salavrakos, Werner Schulz, Charles Tannock, Inese Vaidere, Sir Graham Watson

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Kader Arif, John Attard-Montalto, Elena Băsescu, Carlo Casini, Véronique De Keyser, Andrew Duff, Lorenzo Fontana, Georgios Koumoutsakos, Nadezhda Neynsky, Doris Pack, Vittorio Prodi, Judith Sargentini, Marietje Schaake, Alf Svensson, Indrek Tarand, László Tőkés, Paweł Zalewski, Janusz Władysław Zemke


OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development (22.6.2011)

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

on Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance

(2011/2023(INI))

Rapporteur: Georgios Stavrakakis

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Regional Development calls on the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Invites the Commission, when setting up the European disaster response, to take into account the Solidarity Clause and its implementation arrangements, which need to be adopted as a matter of urgency and which will ensure a more effective and coherent response to disasters inside and outside the European Union;

2.  Points out that the current ad hoc coordination arrangements cannot guarantee appropriate and sufficient assistance in the event of a disaster and that there is scope for improving the overall effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and visibility of the assistance provided; considers that a shift is needed to a system of forward planning, entailing the preparation of reference scenarios for the main types of disaster inside and outside the EU, and that available and necessary resources need to be identified and their intended use determined; considers that it is also important to identify shortcomings in resources and to clarify precisely how the EU could contribute to Member States’ efforts to improve their preparedness; takes the view that the more effetive utilisation of existing resources will prevent the creation of additional financial and administrative red tape, especially in the context of regional and local administration;

3.  Supports the Commission’s proposal to establish a European Emergency Response Capacity, including arrangements to guarantee the more predictable availability of Member States’ key assets, inter alia by setting up a pool of pre-identified assets, available within pre-agreed response times, to be deployed under a voluntary commitment by Member States to make those assets available on a voluntary basis for European disaster relief interventions both inside and outside the Union at national, regional and local level; takes the view that in that way, and by assisting people affected by natural disasters such as major fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and tidal waves, and also by accidents at sea, oil spills or nuclear risks, the European added value of EU interventions will be considerably enhanced;

4.  Calls on the Commission to aim towards EU involvement in terms of the provision of resources, capacities and coordination in connection with disasters which take place in the EU and directly affect its citizens and, therefore, EU taxpayers;

5.  In this context, reiterates its call to use existing EU resources, such as the EU Solidarity Fund; urges the Commission to present a new proposal enabling the EU’s Solidarity Fund to increase its flexibility and to simplify its administrative rules, while keeping in mind its original objective of allowing ‘a rapid decision to be taken to commit specific financial resources and mobilise them as quickly as possible’; takes the view that such a simplification of the administrative procedures would speed up payments from the Solidarity Fund, thereby ensuring that those in need receive payments immediately;

6.  Takes the view that the main focus should be on making full and timely use of the financial resources available, as well as on simplifying all the administrative procedures involved in mobilising those resources; considers that steps must also be taken to ensure that the emergency humanitarian assistance reaches the people affected by disasters without delay;

7.  Recalls that the Lisbon Treaty has introduced the concept of territorial cohesion and extended the scope of the subsidiarity principle to regional and local authorities and that, in that respect, any assessment of a European disaster response should take into account the crucial role those authorities play in the disaster-management cycle, particularly as in many Member States legislative power is exercised at a local or regional level; calls on the Commission to identify new and innovative ways of providing direct support for regional and local authorities;

8.  Supports the Commission’s efforts to include prevention aspects in the disaster response arrangements from the outset; points out, therefore, that regional and local authorities play a key role in disaster prevention by implementing risk prevention strategies at territorial level, including joint interventions involving teams from different countries;

9.  Points out that certain areas, such as coastal, insular and mountainous areas, are extremely vulnerable on account of their geography, and calls for special attention to be paid to these areas;

10. Takes the view that an integrated all-hazards approach linking disaster prevention (including mitigation and risk reduction), preparedness, response and recovery is the most effective strategy for dealing with disasters; considers that prevention is one of the most effective ways of providing protection, reducing the effects and impact of disasters and enabling savings to be made; in that framework, calls for enhanced education on disaster prevention, for investment in the prevention of disasters and climate change, for more efficient prevention policies and appropriate legislation on water management and efficient risk management and for close monitoring of the implementation at regional and local level of the Floods Directive , which will play a central role in future disaster prevention in flood-prone areas;

11. Believes that special attention should be paid to the outermost regions and the Overseas Countries and Territories and the role their geographical location could play in facilitating the delivery of aid to affected countries near them and in further enhancing European disaster response;

12. Points to the key role of regional and local authorities, which are in the front line when disasters, and above all cross-border disasters, occur, and whose involvement can raise the EU’s visibility among its citizens; therefore calls on the Commission to ensure that the Member States involve their regional and local authorities in disaster response from an early stage, building on the multi-level governance model applied in the area of cohesion policy, through a win-win communication strategy for all the actors involved in the response mechanism;

13. Underscores the importance of the EU’s commitment to the exchange of best practices and to supporting the measures taken by Member States, especially when several Member States are affected by the same disaster; therefore advocates making use of the valuable experience acquired in this field through projects implemented in the past under the Community’s INTERREG initiative;

14. Considers that further exploitation of the opportunities offered in the context of the European Territorial Objective is of crucial importance; believes, in this connection, that the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) can constitute an important instrument for further strengthening transnational, cross-border and interregional cooperation, even with countries which are not EU Member States; sees the development of interregional cooperation across national borders as evidence of the particularly important contribution made by the regions to rapid assistance for the purposes of civil protection; considers that this fruitful cooperation extends, inter alia, to the shared aim of mapping risks and assessing potential threats, and that it is here that the EU can make a valuable and visible contribution to even more effective and efficient cooperation, above all by improving coordination;

15. Notes that the European regions situated on the EU’s borders may be affected by disasters occurring in regions which are part of third countries, in which case intervention is even more difficult; proposes that specific measures be developed to support these regions and that special attention be paid to disasters caused by people or by an industrial accident, which require different strategies;

16. Points out that in the European Year of Volunteering it would be symbolic and worthwhile to support those countries which seek to promote such activities and organisations;

17. Calls for a comprehensive communication strategy, involving all EU institutions and Member States and promoting their role in disaster prevention and management, in order to improve the overall visibility of European measures;

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

21.6.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

36

0

4

Members present for the final vote

François Alfonsi, Luís Paulo Alves, Catherine Bearder, Jean-Paul Besset, Victor Boştinaru, Zuzana Brzobohatá, John Bufton, Alain Cadec, Francesco De Angelis, Tamás Deutsch, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Danuta Maria Hübner, María Irigoyen Pérez, Seán Kelly, Mojca Kleva, Constanze Angela Krehl, Petru Constantin Luhan, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Riikka Manner, Iosif Matula, Erminia Mazzoni, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Franz Obermayr, Jan Olbrycht, Wojciech Michał Olejniczak, Markus Pieper, Monika Smolková, Georgios Stavrakakis, Nuno Teixeira, Michail Tremopoulos, Oldřich Vlasák, Kerstin Westphal, Hermann Winkler, Joachim Zeller

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Jens Geier, Ivars Godmanis, James Nicholson, Maurice Ponga, Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid, Elisabeth Schroedter


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

13.7.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

55

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Kriton Arsenis, Sophie Auconie, Pilar Ayuso, Paolo Bartolozzi, Sandrine Bélier, Nessa Childers, Bairbre de Brún, Esther de Lange, Anne Delvaux, Bas Eickhout, Edite Estrela, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Elisabetta Gardini, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Julie Girling, Françoise Grossetête, Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, Satu Hassi, Jolanta Emilia Hibner, Karin Kadenbach, Christa Klaß, Jo Leinen, Corinne Lepage, Peter Liese, Linda McAvan, Miroslav Ouzký, Vladko Todorov Panayotov, Antonyia Parvanova, Andres Perello Rodriguez, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Mario Pirillo, Pavel Poc, Vittorio Prodi, Frédérique Ries, Anna Rosbach, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, Horst Schnellhardt, Richard Seeber, Bogusław Sonik, Salvatore Tatarella, Åsa Westlund, Glenis Willmott, Sabine Wils, Marina Yannakoudakis

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Matthias Groote, Romana Jordan Cizelj, Riikka Manner, Miroslav Mikolášik, James Nicholson, Alojz Peterle, Michèle Rivasi, Crescenzio Rivellini, Giommaria Uggias

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

José Bové, Lorenzo Fontana, Anna Záborská

Last updated: 15 September 2011Legal notice