The European Commission has launched its Emergency Response Centre or ERC in Brussels. The aim is to provide a better coordinated, faster and more efficient response when disaster strikes in Europe and the rest of the world.
Kristalina Georgieva, The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: “Speed is of an essence. We save more lives and we also protect people from suffering and more damage. At a time when our budgets are under stress, we strive for speed and also for efficiency.”
“Experience shows that no country in the world is completely immune to disaster, no matter how well prepared it is,” she added.
One of the roles of the Emergency Response Centre is to provide early warning about upcoming disasters. The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso says the ERC will be capable of dealing with up to three simultaneous emergencies in different time zones.
The new unit has been put together, taking into account the 10 years experience of its predecessor, the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC). However, the Emergency Response Centre, plans to increase its response with specialised aircrafts and search and rescue teams that can be deployed at short notice.
So how will it work? The ERC will coordinate with the 27 EU member states as well as Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway, who all participate in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, to provide life saving action.
The idea is to have the 32 countries to work in solidarity, closer together and pool resources to avoid unnecessary expenses and duplication of efforts.
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