In view of the increasingly acute problems with forest fires and droughts in the European Union, the European Parliament in a resolution stresses the need to increase the EU’s capacity to prevent and to respond to those natural disasters. MEPs urge the Commission to ameliorate the existing instruments and adopt new ones if necessary. The resolution was adopted with 523 votes in favour and 37 votes against.
According to MEPs it is a high -priority for the EU to step up its disaster response capacity. The whole disaster cycle (prevention, preparedness, response and recovery) at national, EU and international levels should be covered by adequate Commission proposals to be presented by the end of 2008. The Commission is urged to submit a package of legally binding instrument (e.g. a framework directive) to fill existing gaps as regards disaster prevention and response. The proposals should include the setting up of key resources that have guaranteed availability for participating in European civil protection operations at any time, based primarily on national capacities.
MEPs criticise the Commissions proposal to create a European Civil Protection Force from May 2006 as not sufficient and call on the Commission to develop a more specific proposal to pursue the development of a rapid response capacity on the basis of the civil protection modules of the Member States.
To ensure the necessary integration of prevention and disaster risk reduction into the Structural funds and Cohesion programmes, MEPs ask for the strengthening of existing guidelines and the development of new ones. Also the Monitoring and Information Centre – through which any country affected by a major can launch a request for assistance – should be strengthened to enable it to actively support the operations by the Member States.