The Civil Protection Mechanism includes prevention, preparedness, and response activities. Coordinated international civil protection operations are carried out within and outside the EU.
The preventive work involves that participating States report their national risk assessments and risk management analyses. There are tools for so-called peer reviews where countries can support one another with evaluation and advice. There are also early warning systems for forest fires and flooding, as well as services based on the EU’s satellite system Copernicus.
With respect to preparedness, focus is on making national capacities available to one another through the civil protection pool. Sweden contributes with six capacities including marine pollution, flood containment, technical support, medical evacuation, and shelter.
The major forest fires over the past few years, raging in several countries at the same time, have proven the need for additional disaster response capacity, beyond the national capacities. Therefore, the development of capacities in rescEU, the EU capacities aiming to strengthen the EU’s preparedness and response capacity, is ongoing within the areas of forest fires, emergency medicine, and CBRNE.
Currently, rescEU has two firefighting aircrafts to combat forest fires (stationed in Sweden) and two emergency medical equipment stockpiles (Romania and Germany), but more capacities will be added over the next few years.
MSB is Sweden’s contact point for rescEU and is also mandated by the Government to ensure that there are capacity in Sweden for aerial firefighting, such as the planes mentioned above. As this capacity is part of rescEU, and thereby also available to other Member States in need, Sweden does not have to carry the entire financial burden for these planes. Rather, the EU carries much of the cost.
The mechanism has also developed guidelines for host nation support to facilitate the exchange of capacities. In addition, there is a comprehensive programme for exchange of expertise, training, and practice. MSB is an active stakeholder in all initiatives.
In Brussels, there is an around-the-clock service to coordinate the efforts of Member States, the ERCC is our contact point for the European Commission and is tasked with analysing and evaluating information on events both within and outside the EU. ERCC also coordinates Member States’ request for assistance and notifies the affected country of what type of assistance is available.
MSB receives requests from ERCC and regularly relays Swedish support to countries affected by catastrophes and crises. Sweden received international assistance via ERCC during the storm Gudrun in 2005, the forest fire in Västmanland in 2014, and for the massive forest fires in 2018, when we received both aerial resources and ground forces from several different countries.
On 21 March 2019, a revision of the Civil Protection Mechanism was adopted. The purpose of the revision is, inter alia, to strengthen the common preparedness and response capacity (rescEU) and increase prevention efforts.