Civil Protection refers to all the activities aiming at the protection of the lives and properties of citizens from the risks stemming from natural, man-made and environmental disasters by decreasing their effects at a European level in accordance with the national policies on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity.
Civil Protection is mainly integrated in the policies on the Environment, Inner Affairs and Security, while relevant actions and measures are included in various European policies as well.
Historically, the Committee’s actions on Civil Protection start in 1985 with the establishment of DG Environment/ Civil Protection Unit.
The Permanent Network of National Correspondents (PNNC) was established in 1987 on the basis of the Resolution of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on strengthening Community cooperation on Civil Protection. It is constituted by high-level representatives of the national Civil Protection administrations and constitutes the first coordinated, coherent Civil Protection network set up in the Community. The network serves as a forum for the exchange of information and the discussion of different initiatives in the field of Civil Protection.
In 1997 the EU Council launched the first Community action programme to promote Civil Protection, covering the years 1998 and 1999. It was followed by a second, 5-year- programme, which ran from 2000 to 2004 and was subsequently extended to 2006. Similar actions of these programmes were integrated in the Civil Protection Financial Instrument covering the period 2007 – 2013. It was set up in 2007 on the basis of an EU Council’s Resolution.
In October 2009, the Civil Protection Unit was reorganized and split in two separate Units: a) Unit Civil Protection – Disaster Response and b) Unit Civil Protection – Prevention and Preparedness. In the context of the new European Commission 2009 – 2014 and since February 2010 the two Units were transferred in the DG Humanitarian Aid –ECHO, which is now referred as “Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection”. These Units are reorganized anew into:
- Unit A/5: Civil Protection Policy, Prevention, Preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction
- Unit B/1: Emergency Response, which manages the operational part of the Mechanism (organizes international assistance missions) and operates MIC.
The Mechanism’s actions are supported by the new Civil Protection Financial Instrument.
The establishment of the European Civil Protection Mechanism in 2001 – it was revised in 2007- has been an important initiative at a European level. The Mechanism is offering a cooperation and assistance framework in cases of major emergencies inside and outside the European Union. The institution of the Civil Protection Modules entered into force with the implementation of the revised Decision. The Commission is assisted by a Committee of Representatives of the Member States (Civil Protection Committee). The funding of the various actions is based on the new Civil Protection Financial Instrument covering the period 2007 – 2013.
The General Secretariat for Civil Protection is representing Greece in the European Union on Civil Protection issues and is, therefore, participating with representatives in the Civil Protection Committee, in Committees aiming at supporting the work of the European Commission as well as in the working group of the EU Council entitled “Civil Protection”.
Furthermore, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection is, on the basis of the relevant legislation, the agency through which international assistance is asked for or offered.
Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon is creating new fields of competencies in which the European Union can intervene. The new competencies in the field of Civil Protection are supportive.
Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon seeks to improve the EU’s ability to respond in natural or man - made disasters. Thus, the Treaty’s Article 196 on the function of the EU enables it to take measures on:
- Risk preventionPreparedness of the Civil Protection services
- Intervention in cases of natural or man – made disasters
- Operational cooperation within the Union between national Civil Protection services
- Consistency in international Civil –Protection work
Besides, these Civil Protection orders are connected with the solidarity clause of the Treaty’s Article 222. This clause enables the EU to assist a Member State in case of a terrorist attack, a natural or man – made disaster.
- European Civil Protection Mechanism
- Training Programme & EU Exchange of Experts Programme
- Civil Protection Financial Instrument