EU civil protection capabilities

Briefing 29-07-2020

Civil protection is the protection of people, the environment and property against natural and man-made disasters. The Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) is a highly visible and tangible promise by the European Union (EU) to its citizens to protect them when in need, and to act in solidarity in times of extraordinary suffering. It is a distinctively civilian approach to the problem. On the basis of Articles 196 and 222 (the 'solidarity clause') of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), it relies on a voluntary system of mutual assistance and on capacity pre-committed by the Member States. In 2019, this was complemented by dedicated EU capacities via a new tool, called RescEU, and improvements in risk prevention and preparedness. However, the current coronavirus crisis has shown that the current structures and processes might still not be fit for purpose or in the required state of readiness. The EU needs to broaden and increase its capabilities. This paper explores the issue and identifies potential initiatives to further improve the structural and capability components of EU crisis response. They include options for streamlining civilian and military crisis response and management, improving cooperation with industry, enhancing foresight, war-gaming, international exercises and cyber capabilities, and the development of capability goals, readiness monitoring, and ensured mobility of urgently needed assets.