The Union Civil Protection Mechanism has proven to be a useful tool to mobilise and coordinate the assistance provided by the Participating States, as tangible proof of European solidarity. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for better European Union preparedness for future large-scale emergencies while highlighting the limitations of the current framework. Therefore, CoR:
calls for significant strengthening of the emergency and disaster response capacities of the EU, with the involvement of national, local and regional emergency response structures as well as for the full involvement of local and regional authorities in the EU decision-making process;
emphasises that swift agreement on and adoption of the EU budget is of the essence for the EU to be better equipped to prepare for and respond to any future large-scale emergencies;
stresses that a long-term commitment and reinforcement is needed to further reinforce the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and its instruments, such as rescEU and the European Medical Corps.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that every crisis is a test of solidarity for the EU and its Member States, as most recently demonstrated by the current COVID-19 pandemic, and strongly believes in the need for a coordinated European response in the spirit of true solidarity between Member States, all levels of government and across borders;
- notes that while the COVID-19 outbreak put the current Union Civil Protection Mechanism to the test, the targeted changes must now aim to enhance and reinforce the Union Mechanism and enable both the EU and Member States to be better prepared and react quickly and effectively to future large-scale high-impact crises;
- reiterates its call for significant strengthening of the emergency and disaster response capacities of the EU, with the involvement of national, local and regional emergency response structures and respecting the subsidiarity principle under TFEU Article 196;
- supports the strengthening of the immediate and long-term capacity of the EU to react to emergencies while preserving local authorities' ultimate operational control, but emphasises that more flexibility is also needed for deployment of rescEU resources;
- welcomes the Next Generation EU instrument as one-off reinforcement but emphasises that long-term commitment and reinforcement is needed to further reinforce the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and its instruments, such as rescEU and the European Medical Corps;
- agrees that the Commission should be able to directly procure rescEU capacities to support Member States to alleviate the burden on Member States and enable the EU to intervene more rapidly to ensure the availability of strategic assets when the capacities of Member States are overwhelmed;
agrees that in addition to the availability of strategic assets, sufficient transport and logistical capacity, including multi-purpose aircraft services, in case of emergency is needed to be able to react quickly and deliver emergency assistance.