Brussels, 17 November 2011 - Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and W. Craig Fugate, Administrator of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, met today in Brussels to discuss the priorities for cooperation between the European Commission and FEMA in disaster management and emergency response.
The meeting highlights the signature of an administrative agreement between the European Commission and FEMA. With it, the two partners commit to fostering cooperation in disaster risk reduction, resilience and response to disasters.
"The floods in Australia, the storms in the US, the triple disaster in Japan – these recent examples remind us that even the best-prepared and the most developed countries can be seriously affected by major disasters. Meanwhile, the economic crisis has squeezed the resources available for disaster management everywhere. In the face of such serious and complex challenges, cooperation in disaster response and risk reduction is more important than ever. This is why the European Commission and FEMA are taking our cooperation to the next level, stepping up our joint efforts to prevent disasters, prepare for the unavoidable ones and respond in a way that is both efficient for our citizens and practical for our budgets," said Commissioner Georgieva.
The agreement and the regular dialogue between the European Commission and FEMA are part of the comprehensive approach of the EU to strategic partners such as the USA, Japan and Russia and neighbouring countries. This approach aims to share knowledge and exchange best practices and to be able to work together in the event of major disasters.
The European Commission has a holistic approach to disaster management; this includes prevention, preparedness, response and rehabilitation. Moreover, the EU has developed various legal and financial instruments to support and complement the national initiatives in disaster preparedness and response of the 27 EU Member States. These include training programmes and joint exercises for civil protection experts, cooperation projects and transport co-financing. Through them, Europe aims to ensure effective response to disasters when they affect its own citizens, as well as effective assistance to other countries when they need disaster relief assistance.
About the EU Civil Protection Mechanism
The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 31 European states (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of European assistance wherever it is needed. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through its emergency response centre (the Monitoring and Information Centre).
Since its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated for disasters in Europe (like the forest fires in Portugal, floods in the Balkans in 2010 and explosion at a naval base in Cyprus in 2011) as well as worldwide, including after Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.
For more information
Commissioner Georgieva's website:
The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:
David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)
Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)