Procedure : 2009/2151(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0227/2010

Texts tabled :

A7-0227/2010

Debates :

PV 20/09/2010 - 23
CRE 20/09/2010 - 23

Votes :

PV 21/09/2010 - 5.8
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2010)0326

REPORT     
PDF 216kWORD 196k
6.7.2010
PE 439.259v02-00 A7-0227/2010

on the Commission communication: A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man‑made disasters

(2009/2151(INI))

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Rapporteur: João Ferreira

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development
 OPINION of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
 OPINION of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the Commission communication: A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man‑made disasters

(2009/2151(INI))

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Commission Communication of 23 February 2009 entitled ‘A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man‑made disasters’(1) and the corresponding impact assessment(2), and to the Commission working document of 14 December 2007 on strengthening early warning systems in Europe(3),

- having regard to its resolutions of 16 September 2009 on forest fires in the summer of 2009(4), 4 September 2007 on natural disasters(5), 7 September 2006 on forest fires and floods(6), 5 September 2002 on floods in Europe(7), 14 April 2005 on the drought in Portugal(8), 12 May 2005 on the drought in Spain (9), 8 September 2005 on natural disasters (fires and floods) in Europe(10), its resolutions of 18 May 2006 on natural disasters (forest fires, droughts and floods) – agricultural aspects(11), regional development aspects(12) and environmental aspects(13), its resolution of 11 March 2010 on the major natural disaster in the autonomous region of Madeira and the effects of the storm ‘Xynthia’ in Europe(14), and its legislative resolution of 18 May 2006 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund(15),

- having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 June 2008 on reinforcing the Union’s disaster response capacity(16), and points 12 to 15 of the Presidency conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 15-16 June 2006 on the European Union’s responsiveness to emergencies, crises and disasters(17),

- having regard to Decision 2007/162/EC, Euratom of 5 March 2007 establishing a Civil Protection Financial Instrument(18),

- having regard to Council Directive 96/82/EC on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (Seveso II Directive)(19),

- having regard to Directive 2007/60/EC of the European Parliament and Council on the assessment and management of flood risks (Floods Directive)(20),

- having regard to Council Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (EIA Directive)(21),

- having regard to the Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, adopted on 22 January 2005 in Kobe, Hyogo(22),

- having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted on 5 June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro,

- having regard to Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

- 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 Regional Development, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A7‑0227/2010),

A.  whereas prevention should constitute an increasingly important stage in disaster management and be given greater social importance,

B.   whereas natural disasters compromise ecosystems and biodiversity, affect sustainable development and jeopardise social cohesion,

C.  whereas factors such as, inter alia, intensive land use, haphazard industrial and urban growth, abandonment of the countryside, desertification and the increased frequency of extreme weather events make Member States, and convergence regions in particular, more vulnerable to disasters, both natural and man-made,

D.  whereas climate change is causing ever more frequent natural disasters (floods, extreme droughts and fires), resulting in loss of human life and serious environmental, economic and social damage,

E.   whereas disasters generally have many causes, they are not always solely attributable to extreme natural phenomena, but are frequently made more likely by mankind’s flawed relationship with the surrounding physical environment,

F.   whereas disasters may be caused by technological and industrial accidents which can entail the release of dangerous chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) agents with major effects on health, crops, infrastructure, or livestock,

G.  whereas often to a large extent damage caused by natural and man-made disasters could have been prevented; whereas, furthermore, EU policies must ensure consistent incentives for the national, regional and local authorities to develop, fund and implement more efficient prevention and conservation policies,

H.  whereas a holistic, proactive, intelligence-led and effective approach to disaster prevention should incorporate various levels of cooperation between local, regional and national authorities and should also involve other actors with links to and, therefore, a knowledge of the land,

I.    whereas disaster prevention measures in force have been shown to be lacking, and the previous European Parliament proposals have not yet been fully implemented, thus hindering the implementation of a consolidated strategy for the prevention of natural and man-made disasters at EU level,

J.    whereas persistent drought and fires are also speeding up the process of desertification, especially in southern Europe, above all affecting Mediterranean forest areas and extensive woodlands comprising a single, non-native species which is highly vulnerable to fire, threatening the lives of citizens and the quality of life of the populations affected,

K.  whereas the balanced occupation/utilisation of land, economic and social development that are in harmony with nature, respect for energy, natural resources and the environment, reinforced cohesion across the EU, combating rural depopulation, desertification and soil erosion, and maintaining an environmentally sustainable agricultural activity are some of the fundamental elements of disaster prevention,

L.   whereas forests play a crucial role in preserving the environment through the balances created in both the carbon cycle and the water cycle,

1.  Notes that natural and man-made disasters may have very serious consequences for the economic and social development of regions and Member States; points out that the main objective of disaster prevention is to safeguard human life, the safety and physical integrity of individuals, fundamental human rights, the environment, economic and social infrastructures, including basic utilities, housing, communications, transport and the cultural heritage;

2.  Stresses that a proactive approach is more effective and less costly than one based simply on reacting to disasters; takes the view that knowledge of the local geographical, economic and social context is fundamental to the prevention of natural and man-made disasters;

3.  Welcomes the commitment made by the Commission to ensuring that disaster-prevention-related issues are taken into account more coherently in EU policies and programmes, and stresses the need for a holistic approach to disaster prevention; recalls that all types of natural and man-made disasters must be taken into account and that these may include, among other hazards(23), floods, storms, droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, forest fires, extreme temperature events, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, landslides, technological and industrial accidents, soil erosion, contamination of the subsoil and groundwater and pollution of the seas, lakes and rivers;

4.  Invites the Commission to encourage the exchange of good practices between Member States in preventing man-made disasters, and calls on the Member States to ensure that regional authorities undergo disaster management training;

5.  Considers that, given the scale and/or the cross-border nature that disasters may assume, it is appropriate and necessary to enhance cooperation, both at regional and EU level, based on complementarity of action, dissemination of best practices and the principle of solidarity between Member States;

6.  Takes note of the proposal to set up a network made up of representatives of the various competent national services of all the Member States; stresses that this network should operate within the scope of the cooperation between national, regional and local authorities with responsibilities in disaster management, spatial planning and risk mapping and management; emphasises the role of this network in exchanging experience and prevention measures and in establishing a common methodology and minimum requirements for hazard and risk mapping at EU level; calls for the inclusion in this network of representatives from agriculture and for consideration also to be given to hearing UNEP, social and non-governmental organisations working in this area and other actors with links to and, therefore, a knowledge of the land;7.  Regards as essential cooperation on the dissemination of information and experience, technical and scientific applications and also the coordination of strategies for the development of intervention capacities;

8.  Calls on regions to build on already existing territorial and cross-border coordination networks in order to develop cooperation focusing more specifically on disaster prevention; believes that cross-border cooperation structures, such as the macro-regions, with their functionally-oriented cooperation, can become effective platforms for cooperation in the field of disaster prevention; advocates making use of the valuable experience acquired in this field through projects implemented in the past under the Community’s INTERREG Initiative;

9.  Takes the view that coordinated actions and strategies between Member States, the different sectors and the different actors involved in the disaster management cycle can lead to real advances in the field of disaster prevention; highlights the role that voluntary work can play in these strategies and calls on the Member States to foster cooperation to this end at national, regional and local level; suggests that the possibility be assessed, in the context of the European Year of Volunteering 2011, of organising voluntary work cooperation at Member State level with a view to disaster prevention;

10. Urges cooperation between Member States, countries neighbouring the EU and developing countries in cross-border projects sharing best practice and disseminating practical knowledge through the EU’s neighbourhood policy programmes and development programmes;

11. Emphasises that the principle of non-discrimination must be included in aid provision; notes that assistance should be provided on the basis of need, without discrimination based on the race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status of recipients;

12. Points out that environmental problems, caused and exacerbated by climate change, are currently responsible for a growth of forced migration and therefore wishes to highlight the increasing link between asylum seekers and areas of environmental decline; calls for better protection and resettlement of ‘climate refugees’;

13. Stresses that it is the regions and local communities that bear the brunt of natural disasters and that, generally speaking, neither their material and human resources nor their know‑how or financial resources are sufficient to cope with these disasters under a purely national and/or regional approach, and that these disasters call for an effective European‑level solidarity‑based response;

14. Points out the importance of reducing inequalities between regions and Member States in terms of their capacity to protect their populations, and their property, including the cultural heritage, by supporting their efforts to improve prevention, particularly in the regions and Member States that are highly vulnerable to the risk of disasters; urges that particular attention be paid to the most isolated, most sparsely populated, mountainous and border regions of Europe, and the most economically disadvantaged European regions;

15. Stresses that the natural characteristics and constraints of isolated regions, mountainous regions, regions with low population density and those suffering from depopulation, outlying and outermost regions, islands, naturally disadvantaged regions, as well as regions facing a combination of risks, need to be acknowledged and taken into due account; draws attention to the added difficulties faced by these regions in tackling disasters; asks for special attention to be paid to those regions through the various financial instruments available and calls for the conditions for mobilising the Solidarity Fund for those areas to be made more flexible;

16. Highlights the need for the Solidarity Fund Regulation to be revised by adapting the eligibility criteria to the characteristics of each region and each disaster, including slowly evolving disasters such as drought, paying particular attention to production sectors, the most vulnerable areas and the populations affected, and enabling mobilisation to be more flexible and timely; considers that the eligible operations listed in Article 4 of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) are too restrictive; takes the view that, when setting eligibility thresholds, consideration of the regional dimension is vital, as otherwise regions facing very serious disasters can find themselves excluded because the threshold set for the whole Member State is not reached;

17. Stresses the need to create a suitable financial framework for disaster prevention, with adequate financial resources for preventing and combating disasters, that will strengthen and link existing instruments such as cohesion policy, rural development policy, regional policy, the Solidarity Fund, the Seventh Framework Programme and the Life+ programmes; asks that, in this context, prevention should be taken into account in the 2014-2020 Financial Perspective; calls on the European Commission to assess the possibility of proposing a more systematic pooling of available resources in order to strengthen the effectiveness of prevention mechanisms across the EU;

18. Urges the Commission to ensure that the current budgetary pressures arising from the crisis do not lead to a reduction in the resources allocated to existing disaster prevention policies and, as part of the current budget review, to carefully assess any gaps in the field of prevention and ascertain whether each type of disaster is covered by the instruments available;

19. Points out that cohesion policy is an essential tool in natural disaster risk prevention; considers that it must be possible for the various funds and instruments to operate flexibly and in a coordinated manner in order to improve the functioning and effectiveness of that policy; stresses that risk prevention must also dovetail with other policies pursued in the field of prevention, in order to prevent the fragmentation of measures and increase their effectiveness and added value;

20. Reaffirms the need to verify that EU funds have been used in an adequate manner, and for any misused funds to be repaid;

21. Emphasises that responsibility for disaster prevention lies primarily with the Member States and that the principle of subsidiarity in this area should continue to be considered;

22. Calls on the Member States who are responsible for land management to introduce criteria and legislation in order to prevent catastrophes in areas at risk of flood and landslides and other geological risks, taking into account the problems created by indiscriminate deforestation, and furthermore to prevent construction in these areas;

23. Invites the Member States to assess the possibility of improving the inclusion of disaster prevention in national operational programming of EU funding, as well as in national, regional and local operational programmes; considers that all public actors involved in environmental protection should be engaged and participate effectively in this process; urges the Commission to support the need to reformulate the operational programmes identified by Member States in this area; with a view to exchanging experience, asks the Commission to invite Member States to supply details of their operational programmes in place for dealing with natural and man-made disasters;

24. Considers that, inter alia, the following prevention measures should be the subject of priority support from the EU to the Member States:

a) drafting and revising building safety and land use legislation;

b) action to remedy situations conducive to future risks: renaturalising river beds; restoring and protecting river basins, wetlands and related eco-systems; monitoring erosion and sedimentation in water courses; increasing the through-flow capacity of bridges and water pipelines; clearing up and reordering forests; reforestation; and protecting and defending the coastline;

c) protecting and refurbishing inhabited areas, especially urban areas, that are particularly vulnerable to certain types of disasters, with the involvement of residents;

d) maintaining and inspecting the safety of existing major infrastructures, with particular emphasis on dams, fuel pipelines, road and rail bridges, energy, water supply, sanitation, communications and telecommunications facilities;

e) sustaining the agricultural activity in areas affected by depopulation and subject to the risk of natural disasters, and contributing to the reintegration of human activity by creating infrastructures to enable those who live in such areas to remain on the territory;

25. Calls on the Commission to support Member States in promoting awareness-raising campaigns for prevention and in adopting best practices, providing relevant updated information and training to the general public through channels that are easily accessible to all citizens on identified risks and procedures to be adopted when faced with natural or man-made disaster situations; urges that, in training schemes for populations, particular attention be paid to young people from school age on and to rural communities; in the context of public awareness-raising, stresses also the role of the European single emergency telephone line ‘112’ and the need to make it better known;

26. Recalls that water is often involved in natural disasters, not only in floods – often due to inadequate planning – frost, hail and contamination of river basins, but also through its scarcity, which can wreak significant change, such as the desertification of large areas of southern Europe and south-eastern Europe;

27. Highlights the fact that persistent droughts have in recent years encouraged the proliferation of forest fires in Europe, at the same time worsening the desertification of a large number of regions;

28. In view of the interconnections between drought, forest fires and desertification, calls on the Commission to present a proposal for a directive, similar to the directive on floods, to promote the adoption of an EU policy on water scarcity, drought and adaptation to climate change; to this end, also reiterates the importance of setting up a European Drought Observatory which would be responsible for the study and the mitigation and monitoring of the effects of drought;

29. Reiterates its call on the Commission to promote the entry into operation of the European Drought and Desertification Observatory which would be responsible for studying, mitigating and monitoring the effects of droughts and desertification, aiming to enhance sound, strategic decision-making and better coordination between Member States; considers that the interconnections between drought, forest fires, desertification and climate change adaptation should be taken into consideration and that serious and solidarity-based objectives should be set in the context of drought risk prevention and management policy.

30. Since forests are important for the production of wood, maintaining biodiversity, the prevention of floods, avalanches and erosion, management of groundwater resources and carbon capture, the fact that they are threatened by fire should be an issue of concern to all Member States; therefore calls on the Commission to present and to carry out, together with the Member States, legislative proposals and initiatives in the area of forest protection and fire prevention; considers that forestation and reforestation projects should be supported, with preference given to native species and mixed forests, to encourage biodiversity and greater resistance to fire, storms and disease, as well as the sustained collection and use of residual forest biomass - a renewable energy source; considers that, within the framework of a genuine cooperation in this domain, the regular collection of data, preparation of risk maps, preparation of fire risk management plans, identification of the resources needed and those available in the 27 Member States and coordination at different levels should be carried on;

31. Given that the starting of fires and the increase in their frequency are by nature environmental offences, calls on the Commission to study and propose to the Council and the European Parliament ways of implementing coercive measures which will discourage negligence and deliberate action in the starting of fires;

32. Highlights the importance of viewing prevention from a cross-cutting perspective, incorporating it in the relevant sectoral policies to promote balanced land occupation and cohesive economic and social development that is in tune with nature;

33. Recognises that some sectoral policies have led to certain regions being more exposed to risk by encouraging abandonment of the countryside and excessive concentration of the population in urban areas;

34. Considers that agricultural and forestry production are vulnerable to climatic phenomena such as drought, frost, ice, hail, forest fires, storms, floods, torrential rainfall and storms, to health risks such as pest infestations, animal diseases, epidemics, and epizootics, to destruction due to wild animals, and to consequences of human activities like climate change, pollution, acid rain and unintentional and deliberate genetic contamination, to landslides because of problems related to urban and regional planning, to technological and transport-related hazards, to the desertification of mountain areas and to forest fires primarily due to absence of forest maintenance and criminal behaviour, and to contamination of rivers due to chemical discharges from factories, nutrient leakage and the negligence of forest visitors;

35. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage the implementation of good agricultural practices, which in some Member States has made it possible to halve infiltration of nitrogen-based fertilisers without reducing crop yields;

36. Advocates, as an essential element in the effective prevention of natural disasters, an environmentally and socially balanced agricultural policy that takes into account the need to support and stimulate sustainable agricultural production and rural development in the various countries and regions; advocates effectively strengthening incentives for agro-environmental and agro-rural jobs, encouraging people to settle in rural areas, as a key factor in conserving ecosystems, tackling the current trend of depopulation and impoverishment of these locations and relieving the pressure on urban areas; furthermore, highlights the role played by farmers as custodians of the countryside and regrets the insufficiency of key elements concerning the agricultural sector in the Commission communication;

37. Advocates the creation of an European agricultural public insurance scheme; urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal for an European public insurance system to better address the risk and income instability of farmers related to natural and man-made disasters; stresses that it must be more ambitious than the present model in order to avoid a multiplicity of different insurance schemes in the EU, creating huge imbalances between farmers’ incomes; considers it urgent for a minimum compensation scheme for natural or man-made disasters to also be accessible to farmers across all Member States;

38. Calls on the Commission and Member States to include in the calculation of agri-environmental premiums the additional costs borne by farmers in order to take measures designed to prevent fires (such as cleaning of firebreaks, removal of dead arboreal plants, working of the soil along the perimeter of land parcels, etc.) and to dispose of water (cleaning of collecting ditches and canals);

39. Points out the importance of studying rural and urban adaptation measures, given the increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events in various geographical areas; considers that foreseeable negative effects of climate change will represent an additional constraint for agricultural activity and food security and sovereignty, and stresses the need to respond to this and to other challenges in the context of adapting to climate change and reducing its negative effects;

40. Emphasises the importance of public research and development (R&D) in preventing and managing disasters and calls for increased coordination and cooperation between the R&D institutions of Member States, especially those facing similar risks; calls for enhanced early warning systems in Member States and the creation and strengthening of links between the various early warning systems; recommends to the Commission that it should take due note of these needs and ensure appropriate funding;

41. Stresses the need to prepare the healthcare systems of the Member States from the point of view of human resource structure, good practice and risk awareness so that they are able to cope with disaster situations;

42. Underlines that it is important to have a comprehensive collection of data and information on the risks and costs of disasters and to share them at EU level, with a view to carrying out comparative studies and determining the likely cross-border impact of the disasters, thus making it possible for Member States to pool information on national civil capabilities and medical resources, and that we should use and develop already existing structures such as the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) rather than build up new ones;

43. Regrets the fact that the Commission has still not carried out a study on hazard and risk mapping practices in the Member States, as provided for in its Communication of 23 February 2009 on ‘A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man‑made disasters’; urges the Commission to make good on this commitment in an effective way during the first half of 2010;

44. Considers that a common methodology and minimum requirements for hazard and risk mapping need to be established at EU level;

45. Underlines the importance of drawing up standards to analyse and express the socio-economic impact of disasters on communities;

46. Recommends that issues relating to disaster prevention should be more fully included in the revision of the EIA Directive, particularly with regard to the assessment, communication and publicising of risks;

47. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(1)

COM(2009)0082.

(2)

SEC(2009)0202.

(3)

SEC(2007)1721.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2009)0013.

(5)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0362.

(6)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0349.

(7)

OJ C 272 E, 13.11.2003, p. 471.

(8)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2005)0139.

(9)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2005)0187.

(10)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2005)0334.

(11)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0222.

(12)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0223.

(13)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0224.

(14)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0065

(15)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0218.

(16)

10128/08.

(17)

10633/1/06.

(18)

OJ L 71, 10.3.2007, p. 9.

(19)

OJ L 10, 14.1.1997, p. 13.

(20)

OJ L 288, 6.11.2007, p. 27.

(21)

OJ L 175, 5.7.1985, p. 40.

(22)

A/CONF.206/6.

(23)

           This is a non-exhaustive list of natural and man-made disasters; therefore other types of natural and man-made disaster which are not set out in this report may be included in the list.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

In recent years EU Member States have been buffeted by a considerable number of disasters. To put this into perspective, records show that during the first six years of the EU Solidarity Fund, the Commission received 62 requests for financial support from 21 different countries(1). Of these, roughly a third fall into the category of ‘major disasters’. Other disasters did not prompt requests for use of the Fund, although their impact on the populations affected, the environment and the economy was considerable and, in many cases, lasting.

The damage is almost always hard to gauge, in particular taking into account the loss of human life. In any event, the economic and social costs of disasters are very significant.

It is against this backdrop that prevention should increase in social importance, becoming an increasingly important stage in disaster management.

Although Member States are primarily and chiefly responsible for the protection of their citizens and for disaster prevention, heightened cooperation in the area of prevention is fully justified, as are improved coordination of efforts, enhanced solidarity and mutual assistance.

With a view to achieving this aspiration, cooperation between national, regional and local authorities with responsibilities for disaster management, spatial planning and risk mapping and management is proposed. The creation of a network that would constitute a forum for exchanging experiences and prevention measures, which would also allow social organisations working in this area to participate in some shape or form, seems desirable. The importance of the role of regional and local authorities, owing to their detailed knowledge of local characteristics and conditions, should be highlighted.

Many factors influence how frequently disasters occur and their magnitude. They are often made more likely by policies that cause a flawed relationship between mankind and the surrounding physical environment. Factors such as, inter alia, intensive land use, haphazard industrial and urban growth, abandonment of the countryside, desertification, increasingly frequent extreme weather events make Member States, and convergence regions in particular, more vulnerable to disasters, both natural and man-made. Such vulnerability is widespread but is even more acute for convergence regions. Hence the importance of viewing prevention from a cross-cutting perspective, incorporating it in the relevant sectoral policies to promote balanced land occupation and cohesive economic and social development that is in tune with nature. Furthermore, it must be recognised that some of these sectoral policies (e.g. CAP) have led to increased exposure to risk for certain regions and for their inhabitants, which is why corrective action needs to be taken.

It is also important to bear in mind that disasters tend to affect most those who have the fewest resources to protect themselves, their families and their assets.

The creation of a suitable financial framework at EU level for the prevention of natural and man-made disasters is thus considered relevant and necessary. This would back up and link existing instruments, including those in the cohesion policy, regional policy and rural development policy areas, among others. EU funding should favour a series of prevention measures to be implemented by Member States that are generally aimed at correcting situations potentially conducive to risks, protecting inhabited areas, monitoring the safety of major infrastructures and drafting and reviewing building safety and land use legislation.

Moreover, improving the inclusion of disaster prevention in national operational programming of EU funding is considered necessary, and the Commission should support the need to reformulate the operational programmes identified by Member States in this area. The characteristics and natural constraints of sparsely populated regions and outermost regions should be acknowledged and taken into due account.

It is vitally important for Member States to enhance their research and development (R&D) capacity in the area of disaster prevention and management. This is also an area where it is both possible and desirable to step up coordination and cooperation between Member States, especially those facing similar risks. It is recommended that due account be taken of this need and for it to be adequately funded. Also in the same area, strengthening early warning systems in Member States and forging and consolidating links between the various early warning systems is seen as fundamental, as is studying and developing adaptation measures at urban and rural level, given the increased frequency of extreme weather events.

A Community approach on disaster prevention should make reducing the disparities between regions and Member States in this area a central focus, in particular by helping to improve prevention in regions and Member States that are highly vulnerable to risk and have fewer economic means.

It is clear that some types of natural disasters have a tendency to recur, especially in convergence regions. Following on from previous European Parliament resolutions, it is proposed that a European Drought Observatory should be created, together with a specific initiative in the area of forest protection and fire prevention.

(1)

COM(2009) 193 final.


OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development (28.4.2010)

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

on the Commission communication: A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man-made disasters

(2009/2151(INI))

Rapporteur: Viktor Uspaskich

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Regional 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. Stresses the crucial role played by regional and local authorities in the disaster management cycle; strongly believes that active involvement of those authorities in the design and implementation of risk reduction and disaster prevention strategies is the best way to ensure that the most effective and functional solutions are devised; stresses also the importance of consulting and involving public and private stakeholders, including voluntary organisations, in this process;

2.   Stresses that a proactive approach is more effective and less costly than one based simply on reacting to disasters; takes the view that knowledge of the local geographic, economic and social context is fundamental to the prevention of natural and man-made disasters;

3.   Stresses that it is the regions and local communities that bear the brunt of natural disasters and that, generally speaking, neither their material and human resources nor their know‑how or financial resources are sufficient to cope with these disasters under a purely national and/or regional approach, and that these disasters call for an effective European‑level solidarity‑based response;

4.   Takes the view that only a common strategy and coordinated actions between the different sectors and the different actors involved in the disaster management cycle can lead to real advances in the field of disaster prevention and the preparedness, response and recovery process; highlights the role that voluntary work can play in the common strategy and suggests that the actions include a voluntary component; calls on the Member States to foster cooperation to this end at national, regional and local level; suggests that the possibility be assessed, in the context of the European Year of Volunteering 2011, of organising voluntary work cooperation at Member State level with a view to disaster prevention and management;

5.   Advocates a global strategy for the whole EU under which a protocol for uniform action is introduced for each type of disaster, including forest fire; emphasises the primary responsibility of the Member States for disaster prevention and management; considers that this strategy must ensure total solidarity between countries and award special attention to the most isolated, most scarcely-populated and outermost regions and certain other regions or islands in the European Union which have special characteristics and specific needs linked to their geography, their topography and the economic and social conditions under which their inhabitants live; emphasising, however, that there are no plans whatsoever to replace or weaken existing national competencies in civil protection and disaster prevention through EU guidelines;

6.   Emphasises the importance of public awareness-raising and information measures both in terms of disaster prevention and the public’s response during and after the crisis as essential for life-saving purposes; calls, therefore, on the Commission to develop the evaluation of the Civil Protection Mechanism and training within the framework of the Civil Protection Programme and prepare Community guidelines for the various possible calamities; stresses also the need for further information relating to the European single emergency telephone line ‘112’;

7.  Stresses that the effects of disasters are not confined within the formal and administrative boundaries of regions and Member States; believes, therefore, that the identification of particularly risk-prone areas, specifying the type of risk concerned, should go hand in hand with establishing priority objectives and cooperation mechanisms in such areas; calls on regions to build on already existing territorial and cross-border coordination networks in order to develop cooperation focusing more specifically on disaster prevention; believes that cross-border cooperation structures, such as the macro-regions, with their functionally-oriented cooperation independent of administrative boundaries, can become effective platforms for cooperation in the field of disaster prevention;

8.   Advocates making use of the valuable experience acquired in this field through projects implemented in the past under the Community’s INTERREG Initiative and 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 intergovernmental, cross-border and interregional cooperation, even with countries which are not EU Member States, and a stable framework for the exchange and transfer of technological know-how and best practices in the field of disaster prevention and for setting up joint databases and early warning systems among its members;

9.   Points out that cohesion policy is an essential tool in natural disaster risk prevention; considers that it must be possible for the various funds and instruments to operate flexibly and in a coordinated manner in order to improve the functioning and effectiveness of that policy; stresses that risk prevention must also dovetail with other policies pursued in the field of prevention, in order to prevent the fragmentation of measures and increase their effectiveness and added value;

10. Welcomes the Commission proposal to extend the lessons learnt from exercises in disaster prevention, with particular attention to those parts of Europe which face a combination of risks, such as flooding, cyclones, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes; calls on the Commission to carry out an inventory of information sources and the dissemination of best practices in the framework of risk management; supports the coordination of research activities in this area and believes that links between detection and early warning systems should be reinforced;

11. Supports the Commission’s initiative aimed at assessing the possibility of improving the integration of disaster prevention in the Operational Programmes set up for the period 2007-2013, and calls on the Member States to make use of the structural funds directly allocated to risk prevention so that actions in this field are taken without delay during the current programming period; recalls, however, the need for coordinated action in this respect; suggests that in the strategy for the next programming period the Commission take into account the need to introduce EU financing measures for disaster prevention that cover all areas of action;

12. Notes that climate change is progressively worsening natural calamities, including floods and hydrology-related disasters, for which adequate and well-coordinated prevention is essential, and calls on the Commission to explore, as part of the current budget review, every possibility to improve the existing disaster prevention systems, including the possibility of using the early warning and satellite observation resources currently available to assess the risks of drought and desertification;

13. Urges the Commission to ensure that the current budgetary pressures arising from the crisis do not lead to a reduction in the resources allocated to existing disaster prevention policies and, as part of the current budget review, to carefully assess any gaps in the field of prevention and ascertain whether each type of disaster is covered by the instruments available;

14. Urges the Commission not to forget that better management and conservation of woodlands is one of its key priorities in the area of combating climate change; considers that the provision of a genuine forestry policy would make a major contribution not just to combating climate change but also to preventing natural disasters;

15. Calls on the Commission to draft a European action plan on the exchange of best practice in disaster prevention as well as coordinated emergency plans merging national forces for cross-border cooperation in cases of emergencies;

16. Takes the view that the funding of infrastructure under the Structural Funds in the next programming periods must be bound to prior implementation of specific measures in keeping with disaster prevention standards;

17. Calls on the Commission to proceed immediately with a new proposal aimed at further simplifying the administrative rules and increasing the flexibility of the EU’s Solidarity Fund.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

27.4.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

 

+:

–:

0:

37

1

2

Members present for the final vote

François Alfonsi, Charalampos Angourakis, Jean-Paul Besset, Victor Boştinaru, Zuzana Brzobohatá, John Bufton, Alain Cadec, Salvatore Caronna, Ricardo Cortés Lastra, Tamás Deutsch, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Danuta Maria Hübner, Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenova, Seán Kelly, Evgeni Kirilov, Constanze Angela Krehl, Petru Constantin Luhan, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Ramona Nicole Mănescu, Riikka Manner, Iosif Matula, Erminia Mazzoni, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Jan Olbrycht, Wojciech Michał Olejniczak, Markus Pieper, Monika Smolková, Nuno Teixeira, Michael Theurer, Michail Tremopoulos, Viktor Uspaskich, Oldřich Vlasák, Kerstin Westphal, Hermann Winkler, Joachim Zeller

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă, Ivars Godmanis, Catherine Grèze, Veronica Lope Fontagné, Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid


OPINION of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (8.4.2010)

for the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

on the Commission communication: A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man-made disasters

(2009/2151(INI))

Rapporteur: Maria do Céu Patrão Neves

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Agriculture and Rural 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.  Welcomes the Commission communication on prevention of natural and man-made disasters(1); supports the view that disaster prevention is inseparable from intervention; reaffirms Parliament's previous work(2) on this subject and regrets that the Commission has not yet put forward legislative proposals in line with Parliament’s proposals; stresses the need to establish comprehensive legislation and guidelines with minimum standards, reflecting a holistic approach, towards a more effective EU policy on disaster management; recalls that, in the absence of this, the Treaty of Lisbon permits the use of enhanced cooperation between Member States, and that this subject may therefore also be addressed within that framework;

2.  Urges the European Commission to develop an approach to natural and man-made disasters closely linked with all stages: prevention, preparedness, immediate intervention and rescue, all closely linked to a policy of swift and effective management; the increase in response capacity must take account of all types of disasters (within or outside the EU, natural or man-made), of all EU instruments, and of interinstitutional coordination;

3.  Advocates a single EU-wide strategy through the introduction of a uniform action plan for each type of disaster, ensuring complete solidarity between countries in tackling disasters; urges that particular attention be paid within the strategy to the most isolated, most sparsely populated, mountainous and border regions of Europe, and the most economically disadvantaged European regions;

4.  Supports the key elements of the Community approach, but considers them insufficient for the agricultural sector; is of the opinion that knowledge-based disaster prevention is essential; highlights the need to create a database of economic and social disaster records, in the interests of efficient monitoring, including the mapping of areas at increased risk, as well as to formulate measures appropriate to the specific nature of the major risks in each region;

5.   Encourages linking the actors and policies throughout the disaster management cycle, stressing the benefits of a quick reaction force that would enhance coordination and solidarity among Member States, since no countries have the resources required to deal with major natural disasters on their own; supports the initiative to launch a stakeholder group and calls for the inclusion of representatives from agriculture in the proposed mechanism for crisis management with a view, inter alia, to making the principle of multi-functionality a reality;

6.   Emphasises that the effects of natural disasters spill over the legal and administrative borders of regions and Member States, which means that risk mapping needs to be accompanied by wide-ranging territorial cooperation mechanisms that operate independently of these borders at the macro-region level, in order to combat natural or man-made disasters more effectively in terms of both prevention and intervention;

7.  Urges cooperation between Member States, countries neighbouring the EU and developing countries in cross-border projects sharing best practice and disseminating practical knowledge through the EU’s neighbourhood policy programmes and development programmes;

8.  Considers that recent experience and that of past years emphasises the need further to reinforce the Community's civil protection, prevention preparedness and response capability in relation to natural and anthropogenic disasters, and strongly urges the Commission to take action to this end in order to provide visible expression of European solidarity with countries affected by major emergencies; supports activities aimed at enhancing Member States' civil protection preparedness, notably through the exchange of experts and best practice, exercises and preparedness projects;

9.  Deeply regrets the fact that so many and such heavy losses have occurred during recent natural disasters in certain Member States and considers it necessary, in consequence, to examine immediately the adequacy of prevention and preparedness measures in order to ensure that the necessary lessons are drawn with a view to preventing and limiting the devastating effects of similar disasters in Member States in the future; in this regard, urges the Commission to ask Member States to supply details of their operational programmes in place for dealing with natural disasters, with a view to exchanging experience and drawing conclusions on immediate measures, coordination of administrative and operational bodies, and availability of the necessary human and material resources;

10. Asks the Member States and local authorities to facilitate awareness raising with regard to prevention of disasters, particularly in schools and rural communities;

11. Recalls that investments in sustainable ecosystem management or sound environmental management can offer cost-effective solutions to reducing community vulnerability to disasters; healthy ecosystems act as natural buffers to hazard events, are often less expensive to install or maintain, and are often more effective than physical engineering structures; according to the World Bank (2004), investments in preventive measures, including in maintaining healthy ecosystems, are seven times cheaper than the costs incurred by disasters;

12. Stresses the need for the presence of representatives of the agricultural sector within the disaster management mechanism with a view to evaluation and remedial action in line with the reality within this sector, for more efficient coordination of existing resources leading to the consolidation of EU policy on immediate response capacity;

13.  Considers that agricultural and forestry production are vulnerable to climatic phenomena such as drought, frost, ice, hail, forest fires, storms, floods, torrential rainfall and storms, to health risks such as pest infestations, animal diseases, epidemics, and epizootics, to destruction due to wild animals, and to consequences of human activities like climate change, pollution, acid rain and unintentional and deliberate genetic contamination, to landslides because of problems related to urban and regional planning to technological and transport-related hazards, to the desertification of mountain areas and to forest fires primarily due to absence of forest maintenance and criminal behaviour, and to contamination of rivers due to chemical discharges from factories, nutrient leakage and the negligence of forest visitors;

14.  Stresses that natural and man-made disasters endanger the economic viability of farms and lead to rural depopulation, intensify erosion and desertification, damage ecosystems, endanger biodiversity and seriously affect the quality of life of the remaining rural population; believes that the consequences are more critical in areas with natural handicaps and no possibilities of economic diversification, where subsistence farming is practised or agriculture is the major or only sector of the economy, leading to a shortage of food, a shortage of jobs in the region concerned and migration of the population to urban areas;

15. Highlights the role played by farmers as custodians of the countryside in the European Union; therefore considers it necessary to promote the maintenance of agricultural activities in a viable manner in order to curb the abandonment of production and the depopulation of rural areas, a phenomenon which further increases the risk of forest fires;

16.  Recalls that agriculture is crucial in this context, as it ensures the existence of rural economies and curbs migration to urban areas, providing good environmental conditions for the land, reducing carbon emissions and contributing to their sequestration, improving soil maintenance, returning river and coastal water systems to their natural state and promoting the recovery of natural spaces;

17. Recalls that plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and produce biomass that can be converted into biogas, biofuels and industrial goods; that the increase in the use of agricultural products in the production of industrial products such as polymers, lubricants, surface agents, solvents and fibres, can also help reduce dependence on non-renewable energy sources;

18. Considers that there is an entire group of agricultural energy crops that, together with wind power and solar energy, can significantly contribute to the EU’s energy security;

19. Considers that the foreseeable negative effects of climate change on agricultural production will put additional pressure on maintaining food security as a matter of necessity, which will also be worsened by a demographic increase to 9 billion people by 2050, requiring a corresponding increase of some 70% in production capacity; all of these aspects show how food security, climate change mitigation, natural disasters and poverty reduction are inextricably linked;

20. Warns of the need for the future common agricultural policy to have the financial means to continue to ensure the supply of food to Europeans and to respond to other challenges they may face, in the context of adapting to climate change and reducing its negative effects, in particular through preventing the impact of natural disasters;

21. Calls on the European Commission to examine the viability of creating a climate change adaptation fund in the context of the next financial perspective, in order to help finance preventive measures relating to natural disasters in specific economic sectors;

22. Recalls that forests are important primarily for the production of wood, but also for maintaining biodiversity, the prevention of fires, floods, avalanches and erosion, management of groundwater resources, landscape management and carbon capture; there is a pressing need for a stringent EU forestry policy, that takes due account of the diversity of European forests and is based on scientific knowledge in order to maintain, protect and adapt forests in the fight against the risks they face; recalls that forests are important primarily for the production of wood but also for maintaining biodiversity, the prevention of fires, floods, avalanches and erosion, management of groundwater resources, landscape management and carbon capture;

23. Highlights the fact that persistent droughts have in recent years encouraged the proliferation of forest fires in Europe, at the same time worsening the desertification of a large number of regions;

24. Calls on the European Commission to present, along the lines of the existing directive on floods, a proposal for a directive for combating drought, with the aim of achieving better coordination between the policies of the Member States on this issue and optimising the Community instruments available:

25.  Considers that forest fires are a serious problem in many parts of Europe and that measures should be taken there to avoid dense afforestation and alter the composition of the forest; believes preference should be given to native species and mixed forests in the interest of higher resistance to fires, storms and insect damage, observing the different natural conditions in Nordic Boreal forests as compared with the forests in the south of Europe; calls on the Commission to urge Member States to include legal provisions with sanctions on civil and criminal liability for arsonists, and to coordinate assessment teams to be consulted on the recovery of the affected area, in order to avoid speculative activity;

26. Advocates the creation of a genuine forest policy designed to improve the management and conservation of forests, taking into account the fundamental role that they play in combating climate change, which is having an increasing impact in natural disasters;

27.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to include in the calculation of agri-environmental premiums the additional costs borne by farmers in order to take measures designed to prevent fires (such as cleaning of firebreaks, removal of dead arboreal plants, working of the soil along the perimeter of land parcels, etc.) and to dispose of water (cleaning of collecting ditches and canals);

28. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage the implementation of good agricultural practices, which in some Member States has made it possible to halve infiltration of nitrogen-based fertilisers without reducing crop yields;

29.  Recalls that water is often involved in natural disasters, not only in floods – often due to inadequate planning – frost, hail and contamination of river basins, but also through its scarcity, which can wreak significant change, such as the desertification of large areas of southern Europe and south-eastern Europe;

30.  Invites the Commission to report on the implementation in the Member States of Articles 70 and 71 of the Health Check provisions on risk insurance and mutual fund schemes; urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal for a European joint system to better address the risk and income instability of farmers related to natural and man-made disasters; stresses that it must be more ambitious than the present model in order to avoid a multiplicity of different insurance schemes in the EU, creating huge imbalances between farmers’ incomes;

31. Considers it urgent for a minimum compensation scheme for natural or man-made disasters to also be accessible to all European farmers, denouncing the unworkable nature of Article 11(8) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1857/2006(3), given the different insurance schemes available in the various Member States, recommending in addition that the component on promoting prevention measures be given preference when calculating agricultural insurance premiums;

32.  Recalls that insurance schemes are provided for under the WTO amber box, and that our trading partners, such as the USA (Counter-Cyclical Programme and Disaster Assistance Programmes), systematically use them to secure the incomes of farming and forest-management businesses as compensation for the effects of natural disasters as well as for loss of income due to market instability;

33. Refers to the existing risk-reduction strategies of businesses, such as their internal or market-focused strategies; reaffirms that such strategies for diversification, production adjustment, changes to crop rotation, cultivation methods designed to protect the soil and conserve water, futures markets, insurance policies and contracts are paramount and should be supplemented by monitoring instruments;

34. Invites the Commission to encourage the exchange of good practices between Member States in preventing man-made disasters, and calls on the Member States to ensure that regional authorities undergo disaster management training;

35.  Considers that an adequate financial framework on response to disasters should be provided and would be better articulated via the Solidarity Fund, the Rural Development Policy, the Regional Policy, the Seventh Framework Programme, state aids, the Forest Focus programme and the Life+ programmes; calls for special funds, outside the CAP, to be partially used for private prevention measures, such as measures for the adaptation of forests to climate change and corresponding research activities, reforestation, protection of wetlands and associated ecosystems, monitoring erosion and sedimentation in water courses, alternative uses for recovering high risk land; further calls for prevention and intervention and public information to be appropriately included in the next financial perspective;

36. Stresses the need to enhance prevention measures designed to tackle all types of natural disaster by establishing joint strategic guidelines to ensure better coordination among the Member States, as well as greater operability and coordination among the various Community instruments (Structural Funds, Solidarity Fund, and the rapid response mechanism and preparedness instrument for major emergencies);

37. Urges the Commission to mobilise the current EU Solidarity Fund in the most flexible

manner possible and without delay in order to assist victims of natural disasters and calls for the adoption of more transparent criteria;

38. Calls on the Commission to simplify and speed up the process, taking into account the initial estimates of direct damage to a disaster-stricken country so that the EU Solidarity Fund offers the maximum efficiency;

39. Calls for the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to be enlarged to define ‘disaster’ as a major destructive event that occasions serious harm to the population and the environment, including slowly evolving disasters such as drought; in this situation the adoption of emergency water-rationing measures by central or regional government should trigger action by the EU Social Fund;

40. Recommends an expansion of the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover damage to agriculture and forests;

41. Considers that the eligible operations listed in Article 4 of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) are too restrictive and do not allow for other situations of the same nature, such as droughts; in this context, and regardless of the fact that it is not practicable for the main victims (private individuals and businesses) to receive direct aid, a new, more flexible clause should be introduced in the EUSF which would enable indirect support to be granted;

42. Calls for the introduction of a new category in the European Union Solidarity Fund relating to 'other operations of public interest aimed at restoring the social and economic life of affected populations and/or areas', so as to include events with consequences for private assets which, being of unquestionable importance for overall wellbeing, operate as if they were public assets;

43. Takes the view that, when setting eligibility thresholds, consideration of the regional dimension is vital, as otherwise regions facing very serious disasters could find themselves excluded because the threshold set for the whole Member State is not reached; consideration should be also given to the specific situation of remote and isolated regions, such as the island and outermost regions;

44. Considers that, in setting the thresholds referred to in paragraph 15, all rural areas with specific natural disadvantages and abandoned areas should also be taken into consideration, so as to incentivise non-abandonment of those areas;

45. Urges the Commission to support the rebuilding of agricultural regions that have sustained significant damage, to relaunch efforts to create jobs and to take adequate measures to offset the social costs inherent in the loss of jobs and other sources of income from agriculture;

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

17.3.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

34

6

0

Members present for the final vote

John Stuart Agnew, Richard Ashworth, José Bové, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă, Michel Dantin, Paolo De Castro, Albert Deß, Diane Dodds, Herbert Dorfmann, Hynek Fajmon, Lorenzo Fontana, Iratxe García Pérez, Béla Glattfelder, Martin Häusling, Esther Herranz García, Peter Jahr, Elisabeth Jeggle, Jarosław Kalinowski, Elisabeth Köstinger, Giovanni La Via, George Lyon, Gabriel Mato Adrover, Mairead McGuinness, Krisztina Morvai, James Nicholson, Rareş-Lucian Niculescu, Wojciech Michał Olejniczak, Georgios Papastamkos, Marit Paulsen, Britta Reimers, Ulrike Rodust, Giancarlo Scotta’, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Alyn Smith, Csaba Sándor Tabajdi, Janusz Wojciechowski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Luís Paulo Alves, Spyros Danellis, Lena Ek, Véronique Mathieu, Maria do Céu Patrão Neves, Daciana Octavia Sârbu

(1)

COM(2009)0082.

(2)

Report of 18 May 2006 on natural disasters (forest fires, drought and floods) – agricultural aspects (C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 363); resolution of 16 February 2006 on risk and crisis management in the agricultural sector (C 290 E, 29.11.2006, p. 407); resolution of 19 June 2008 on stepping up the Union’s disaster response capacity (C 286 E, 14.8.2008, p. 15).

(3)

OJ L 358, 16.12.2006, p. 3.


OPINION of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (28.4.2010)

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

on the Commission Communication: A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man-made disasters

(2009/2151(INI))

Rapporteur: Antigoni Papadopoulou

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home 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.   Welcomes the Commission Communication on the prevention of natural and man-made disasters; recalls that natural and man-made disasters affect all Member States and candidate countries and include, among other hazards(1), floods, storms, droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes(2), forest fires, extreme temperature events, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, landslides, technological and industrial accidents, soil erosion, contamination of the subsoil and groundwater and pollution of the seas, lakes and rivers;

2.   Emphasises that, while enforcing the Union approach, it is important to keep in mind that different types of disasters strike in different Member States and that different measures are therefore required;

3.   Emphasises that, whereas disasters can have many causes, they are not always solely attributable to extreme natural phenomena, but are frequently made more likely by Mankind’s flawed relationship with the surrounding physical environment and due to technological and industrial accidents which can entail the release of dangerous Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) agents with major effects on health, crops, infrastructure, or livestock;

4.  Supports the key elements of the Union approach; regrets however that the previous European Parliament’s proposals are not yet fully implemented, thus hindering the implementation of a consolidated Union strategy for the prevention of natural and man-made disasters;

5.  Believes that the Commission Communication on prevention of natural and man-made disasters should trigger policy discussions between EU institutions and various stakeholders, including NGOs and other members of civil society;

6.  Notes that natural and man-made disasters have very serious consequences for the economy of the regions, with a negative effect on infrastructure, employment, the natural and cultural heritage, the environment, tourism and the economic and social development of the country; proposes that in shaping the new European External Action Service and the financial framework for 2014-2020, the priorities for a coherent foreign security policy include the Union approach regarding natural and man-made disasters, including a proper mechanism for humanitarian aid allocation in times of crises both within the EU and third countries;

7.  Highlights the importance of the new solidarity clause mentioned in Article 222 TFEU to ensure relief efforts by all means and effective coordination between Members States in the event of a natural or man-made disaster;

8.  Highlights in that regard the importance of involving the Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI) as mentioned in Article 71 TFEU and as established by Council Decision 2010/131/EU of 25 February 2010 on setting up the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security(3); draws attention, however, to the fact that COSI is not a legislative body and should not have legislative or quasi-legislative prerogatives; is deeply concerned by the lack of oversight by the European Parliament and national parliaments and demands that the European Parliament and national parliaments are properly and duly informed about the activities of COSI, thus providing the necessary democratic oversight;

9.  Takes the view that COSI should provide interoperable support in all phases (preparedness, response and recovery) of the mobilisation of instruments regarding natural and man-made disasters, and that its operational framework reflect all the areas it should cover (police and customs cooperation, external borders, internal security and disasters) in accordance with the EU Internal Security Strategy;

10. Emphasises that the principle of non-discrimination must be included in aid provision; notes that assistance should be provided on the basis of need, without discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status of recipients;

11. Recalls that essential human rights are in jeopardy in disaster and emergency situations; calls for effective monitoring of the relief effort to ensure that fundamental human rights are respected, including an array of preventive actions concerning physical and sexual violence, mental abuse, human trafficking, forced immigration and criminal behaviour;

12. Highlights that women are often on the front line in the wake of natural and man-made disasters, since they are more dependent than men for their livelihood on natural resources which are threatened by hazards; urges the Commission to adopt gender-sensitive strategies for responding to human security needs and environmental and humanitarian crises caused by natural and man-made disasters;

13. Stresses that natural and man-made disasters can cause severe damage, as we saw recently following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, to the economy and to critical infrastructure including basic utilities, communications and transport; urges the Commission to set up clear priorities for assistance to disaster-stricken countries, such as shelter and site planning or the provision of sufficient and safe water and sanitation;

14. Highlights that an effective civil protection operation relies on specific key modes like prevention, active participation and involvement of all, preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction mechanisms;

15. Draws attention to the establishment of early warning systems and quick reaction forces that should be accompanied by training programmes and public awareness-raising projects;

16. Underlines that it is important to have a comprehensive collection of data and information on the risks and costs of disasters and to share them at EU level, with a view to carrying out comparative studies and determining the likely cross-border impact of the disasters, thus making it possible for Member States to pool information on national civil capabilities and medical resources, and that we should use and develop already existing structures such as the Monitoring and Information Center (MIC) rather than build up new ones;

17. Points out that environmental problems, caused and exacerbated by climate change, are currently responsible for a growth of forced migration and therefore wishes to highlight the increasing link between asylum seekers and areas of environmental decline; calls for better protection and resettlement of ‘climate refugees’;

18. Considers that there should be a strong cross-cutting coordination mechanism in order to ensure dissemination of best practices that can improve cooperation regarding preparedness, response and recovery;

19. Points out that access to health care is critical in the immediate aftermath of a disaster; takes the view that priority must be given to emergency medical and surgical care for injured survivors, reduction of the risk of communicable diseases, psychosocial support to people suffering from severe loss, trauma and constrained social and living conditions, and support for appropriate infant and young child feeding and malnutrition management;

20. Considers that important EU financial mechanisms, like the Civil Protection Financial Instrument, should, given the increase in the frequency and magnitude of disasters, to a larger extent focus on preventive measures, and that the funding possibilities for actions within the EU and in third countries should be immediately extended without bureaucratic procedures;

21. Considers that funding that aims to complement national efforts for the protection primarily of people, but also of the environment and property, including the cultural heritage, in the event of natural and man-made disasters should be managed by existing financial instruments;

22. Takes the view that there is clear added value in working together where natural and man-made disasters occur; calls, therefore, on Member States and EU institutions to develop reinforced cooperation in the field of disaster prevention and a holistic approach towards a more effective EU policy on disaster management; welcomes, therefore, the steps that have already been taken by the Council regarding the development of a Union framework on disaster and forest fire prevention;

23. Notes the importance of ensuring the effective and democratic supervision of security activities; underlines the increased involvement of the European Parliament in the development of security policies after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which means that effective consultation at all stages is essential;

24. Draws attention to the prevention and anticipation of natural and man-made disasters and on the mitigation of their potential impact in order to adopt a strategy based on a proactive and intelligence-led approach; to this end, considers it essential to ensure that Member States’ national legislation complies with the basic safety rules to be observed, for example, in the field of construction.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

27.4.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

41

1

1

Members present for the final vote

Roberta Angelilli, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Rita Borsellino, Emine Bozkurt, Simon Busuttil, Philip Claeys, Carlos Coelho, Cornelis de Jong, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, Cornelia Ernst, Hélène Flautre, Kinga Gál, Kinga Göncz, Sylvie Guillaume, Ágnes Hankiss, Anna Hedh, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Clemente Mastella, Louis Michel, Claude Moraes, Antigoni Papadopoulou, Georgios Papanikolaou, Carmen Romero López, Judith Sargentini, Birgit Sippel, Csaba Sógor, Renate Sommer, Rui Tavares, Wim van de Camp, Axel Voss, Tatjana Ždanoka

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Alexander Alvaro, Edit Bauer, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Ioan Enciu, Ana Gomes, Nadja Hirsch, Franziska Keller, Petru Constantin Luhan, Mariya Nedelcheva, Norica Nicolai, Cecilia Wikström

(1)

This is a non-exhaustive list of natural and man-made disasters; therefore other types of natural and man-made disaster which are not set out in this opinion may be included in the list.

(2)

European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2007 on the regional impact of earthquakes (OJ C 282 E, 6.11.2008, p. 269).

(3)

OJ L 52, 3.3.2010, p. 50.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

22.6.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

42

6

2

Members present for the final vote

János Áder, Elena Oana Antonescu, Pilar Ayuso, Paolo Bartolozzi, Sandrine Bélier, Milan Cabrnoch, Martin Callanan, Nessa Childers, Esther de Lange, Anne Delvaux, Edite Estrela, Elisabetta Gardini, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Julie Girling, Nick Griffin, Françoise Grossetête, Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, Satu Hassi, Dan Jørgensen, Karin Kadenbach, Christa Klaß, Jo Leinen, Corinne Lepage, Peter Liese, Linda McAvan, Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, Gilles Pargneaux, Andres Perello Rodriguez, Mario Pirillo, Pavel Poc, Vittorio Prodi, Frédérique Ries, Richard Seeber, Theodoros Skylakakis, Bogusław Sonik, Catherine Soullie, Salvatore Tatarella, Glenis Willmott, Sabine Wils, Marina Yannakoudakis

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Margrete Auken, João Ferreira, Christofer Fjellner, Marisa Matias, Bill Newton Dunn, Rovana Plumb, Michail Tremopoulos, Giommaria Uggias, Thomas Ulmer, Anna Záborská

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