Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on Thursday signed a letter of intent to continue cooperation between the ministry and the EC on setting up the rescEU civil protection mechanism.
The two also signed an agreement on direct allocation of EU funds for the capacities Croatia contributed to this new European system to tackle natural disasters.
The rescEU mechanism is expanding, Stylianides said and announced the establishment of the first joint European firefighting fleet, which will be ready for this year's forest fire season.
Stylianides: This is an example of European solidarity
Croatia is one of the first members that has joined the fleet with two firefighting planes. That is an example of European solidarity. With rescEU we are showing our desire and commitment to enhance the system of protection. Croatia's forces are brilliant. They are true heroes who deal with fires and other disasters without human losses. Truly, congratulations Croatia. Our aim is solidarity, protection of EU citizens and saving of lives, Stylianides said in Split.
Minister Bozinovic underscored that activities related to the single EU policy were continuing, as could be seen in Split after the big wildfires in 2017 as well as other parts of Croatia and Europe.
He stressed that procedures had been stepped up to establish a mechanism that would combine forces at the European level through the rescEU mechanism and that Croatia had been very active from the very start.
Bozinovic said that Croatia had made the necessary changes to its civil protection system to integrate all services and added that the government had considered ways of enhancing Croatia's visibility within the EU even more.
Bozinovic: EU plans to allocate 1.5 billion euro for protection and rescue by 2027
"Croatia has participated in the creation of a new European policy from the start and the public has been able to follow that from the very first day. In the period from 2021 to 2027 the EU plans to set aside 1.5 million euro for the protection and rescue sector.
We have been recognised as one of the leading nations due to our long tradition that we have also due to weather and other conditions. On the one hand, we have been creating a European policy that has become a reality and on the other hand, we have organised ourselves so that both Croatia and Europe could have the most benefit," Bozinovic said.
He recalled that the government had embarked on equipping firefighters and would continue with other forces and show solidarity at the European level.
Croatia will contribute 2 Canadair firefighting aircraft and will primarily be used to put out fires in Croatia but will also be made available for operations outside the country if required, he said.
Until now, the costs of Canadair services were covered from the state budget whereas with today's agreement, the EU has set aside 1.9 million euro for logistics, maintenance, spare parts and operating costs of firefighting aircraft.
It is important that Croatia has been recognised at the EU level and that it has its heroes who put out fires and save people's lives, the minister added.