The European Civil Protection Mechanism

Modifié le 06/11/2015

Logo European Civil protection

The European Civil Protection Mechanism was set up by a Euratom decision of 23 October 2001. It has been revised several times, in particular by a decision of 17 December 2013 of the European Parliament and Council.

Why introduce a European mechanism?

  • because on a global scale, the frequency and complexity of natural disasters is constantly increasing;
  • because this increase in risks and disasters weakens the international community's capability to react, in human and financial terms. It is important to avoid duplicating efforts;
  • because a State suffering from a natural or technological disaster must be able to receive logistical support and expertise when its own resources are not sufficient to manage the crisis.

The European Civil Protection Mechanism is a collaboration between 34 Partner States. These include the 28 members of the Union, plus Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

The decision of 17 December 2013 by the Parliament and Council considerably modified the organization of the ECPM, in particular by creating an emergency response center, the ERCC (Emergency Response Coordination Centre, ERCC ) operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in direct contact with the contact centers in the participating States. The ERCC can respond simultaneously to several requests.

Video presenting the European Civil Protection Mechanism


"We must continue to protect European citizens. The implementation of the new legislation on civil protection should create a more assured, predictable and efficient response to disasters, and also help to prevent disasters."

Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management since 2014 (Juncker Commission)


A European emergency response capacity has also been created. This reserve capacity, provided by the Member States on a voluntary basis, allocates part of their response capacity in advance (specialist aircraft, heavy equipment, search and rescue teams etc.).

This decision also proposes a series of targets to be attained:

  • focus on risk management prevention and planning; this principle commits the Member States to assessing the risks they may be subject to and presenting their planning systems to the Commission, the ultimate objective being to exchange good practices;
  • reduce disaster reaction times and citizen alert times;
  • reinforce disaster awareness and preparation for citizens;
  • improve the preparation of civil protection systems and services by organizing exercises and training. Sequana is part of this framework.

Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism.

Setting up the mechanim

  • Their Request for Assistance is sent to the Member States via a Common Emergency Communication and Emergency System (CECIS).
  • By matching up the country's needs with the available resources, a proposal for assistance is sent to the affected country.
  • If the affected State accepts, the resources are deployed. The assistance ranges from supply of equipment, provision of teams and intervention systems, to sending experts to assess the situation (EUCP Team). The resources deployed remain under the command of the member countries.

Source: European Civil Protection Forum 2015
In 2012, the mechanism was activated in 38 cases. This figure includes requests for assistance, pre-alerts and monitoring actions. In 31 cases it was activated for natural disasters, including floods (Bulgaria, Comoros, Chad, Nigeria).

In 2013, the year the ERCC was inaugurated, it was activated 36 times, in particular to deal with the floods in Central Europe (May-June 2013). Floods represented 14% of activated cases in 2013;

In 2014, the ECPM was activated 30 times, in particular during the serious floods in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. This was the largest European civil protection mobilization, with intervention by 23 States. France, for example, supplied a water rescue detachment, a helicopter, a water purification system, and two High Capacity pumping systems.
Activation of the ECPM during the floods in Serbia
diagramme activation MEPC

In institutional terms, the European Commission manages the mechanism via its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, ECHO. ECHO's humanitarian mandate was expanded to civil protection in 2010, as these two activities often go together. ECHO's mission is to coordinate assistance from participating Member States in a disaster, both in terms of civil security and humanitarian aid.

For more information

In budgetary terms, the European Union has set up a Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) setting the maximum annual amounts of expenditure for the period 2014-2020. This framework is organized into sections. The budgetary contributions dedicated to the European Civil Protection Mechanism come under two of these sections; "Security and citizenship" and "Europe in the world". A multiannual budget of 223 million euros has been allocated to the first section, and 144 million euros to the second.

The general funding of the mechanism is the responsibility of the Member States. The Commission intervenes financially in the following cases:

  •  general functioning of the ERCC;
  • sending teams of experts;
  • co-funding of logistical transport of resources;
  • co-funding of studies and surveys;
  • funding of a training and exercise programme;
  • public awareness and information operations.


ECPM Key Figures

As part of this framework, the Prefecture de Police responded to a call for projects, submitting its application in June 2014. The eligibility criteria for obtaining European subsidies to fund the exercises are: involving at least three Member States in the mechanism; setting up a scenario that goes beyond the national capacity for intervention; planning for the sending of experts and participation of observers.

The European Commission selected the EU Sequana project in December 2014. The total budget for Sequana is 924,000 Euros. In accordance with the rules in force, the Union will contribute to 80% of the exercise, thus the EU subsidies will amount to 739,000 Euros and the Prefecture de Police will cover the remaining expenses.

The Sequana exercise was officially launched on 10 April 2015 at the Prefecture de Police

On 23 June 2015, the first steering committee was launched. On this occasion, the European partners and representatives of the European Commission were received at the Prefecture de Police to give an update on EU Sequana and visit the various sites for the exercise.

The European Commission representative for the exercise is Mr. Per-Oyvind SEMB. A graduate in political science from the University of Oslo. Political adviser to the Norwegian Parliament until 1999. Unit Head of the Civil Protection and Emergency Planning Department. Now a national expert with the humanitarian aid and civil protection department.