As large swathes of central and southern europe have been destroyed by fire, and floods have caused havoc in Britain and Romania, there is renewed focus on the idea of a European rapid reaction force to tackle natural emergencies. Several countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Macedonia have been helped by the EU so far this summer, but officials say its resources are being stretched to the limit. And the European Commissioner for the Environment and civil protection, Stavros Dimas, has resurrected a report written on the matter last year. The European Forest Fire Information System says nearly 3,400 square kilometres of land have been destroyed by fire so far this year, already virtually at the same level recorded for the whole of last year. The Commission’s spokewoman Antonia Mochan said: “July 2007 was actually one of the worst months on record, and the worst July that we have experienced since we started pooling this information at european levels”. The French President and the Greek Prime Minister have both called for stronger co-operation among member states, and it is their pressure which might relaunch the debate.
Thoughts turn to EU disaster response force