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EU plans to reinforce disaster response capacity by end 2008

Better disaster response – at home and abroad

From the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean to the forest fires that ravaged southern Europe in the summer of 2007 – recent natural and man-made disasters have highlighted the need for a more effective EU response. Better cooperation between EU countries is crucial.

“When responding to disasters, Europe is strongest when it combines its capacities and benefits from its diversity and different expertise,” said Commission president José Manuel Barroso.

The Commission’s latest policy paper on disaster response outlines some practical ways of beefing up capacity over the year ahead. These include:

* turning the monitoring and information centre (MIC) into a fully fledged operations centre with access to standby resources
* better coordination with the UN and the Red Cross to tackle problems with humanitarian aid delivery
* a new Europe-wide disaster response training network to build on the experience gained in the civil protection training programmes
* early warning systems in the EU and further afield, making use of the single European emergency number 112

Mr Barroso described the new policy paper as “a concrete step that illustrates how Europe can rise to the expectations of its citizens.” The EU can’t yet build on the opportunities the Lisbon Treaty will provide, but it can strengthen existing response measures through new partnerships and better coordination of resources.