Disasters know no borders and can simultaneously hit one or several countries without warning. Having a well-coordinated joint response means that when national authorities are overwhelmed, they have one point of contact rather than multiple to deal with. A joint approach further helps pool expertise and capacities of first responders, avoids duplication of relief efforts, and ensures that assistance meets the needs of those affected. Pooling together civil protection capacities and capabilities allows for a stronger and more coherent collective response.
In addition to the EU countries, there are currently 6 participating states in the Mechanism (Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Turkey). Since its inception in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has responded to over 600 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU.
The Mechanism also helps coordinate disaster preparedness and prevention activities of national authorities and contributes to the exchange of best practices. This facilitates the continuous development of higher common standards enabling teams to understand different approaches better and work interchangeably when a disaster strikes.
Through the UCPM, the European Union finances the organisation of trainings, exercises, exchange of experts and other disaster prevention and preparedness actions, including grants for cross-border projects and the development of new tools, e.g. to improve weather forecasting, early warning systems, risk assessment methodologies and cost-benefit analyses.
It also provides financial support to have in place resources such as urban search and rescue teams, forest fire fighting capacities, emergency medical teams, water purification equipment, high-capacity pumping units, etc., and their deployment during collective European emergency response operations in international contexts.