Croatia supports new European Union civil protection mechanisms because Europe is facing increasing security and natural disaster challenges, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said at the conference on EU’s civil protection mechanisms which took place on Tuesday at the Adriatic city of Split.
"In light of increasing challenges, only resilient and comprehensive EU-wide capacities can guarantee protection of the European family as well as of the environment and economic interests," Bozinovic said at a conference.
He said that Croatia supported the new protection system, called rescEU. It is a reserve of civil protection capabilities managed by the EU to be used to support the collective response to disasters such as floods, forest fires, earthquakes and epidemics.
Bozinovic said he saw the rescEU mechanism as a response to natural disasters unburdened by administrative procedures.
"RescEU is a pragmatic mechanism available to EU member states when the national capacities are overloaded. RescEU should be seen as a guarantee of the safety of our citizens in cases of disaster," he said, adding that the mechanism was complementary with national capacities.
From 2007 to 2017, Croatia was involved in 17 disaster assistance operations in seven countries.
Bozinovic said that the new EU civil protection mechanisms also meant a lot to Croatia in financially supporting civil protection efforts in times of natural disasters. He added that, for this reason, Croatia supports the proposal to increase funding for the EU civil protection mechanisms in 2018-2020 by €280 million.
The Croatian government had set aside 14 million kuna (€1.9 million) for fire prevention activities this year, Bozinovic said, adding that 91 firefighting vehicles and three command firefighting vehicles would be procured this year.
This project, worth €30 million, will be financially supported with EU funds, he said.
The rescEU capacities will not be in Brussels, but will be decentralised and close to disaster areas in order to ensure as an effective response as possible to forest fires, floods, earthquakes or epidemics, said the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
No country can fight against natural disasters alone and we need a joint European response to such disasters and mutual solidarity, he added.
The new civil protection mechanisms will be discussed after summer recess by the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament, Stylianides said.