The EU’s emergency response to natural disasters and major disease outbreaks around the world is generally well-coordinated, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors.
The auditors examined the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), which is managed by the European Commission and which exists to coordinate responses to disasters worldwide. They looked at three recent international disasters for which the Mechanism had been activated: the 2014 floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016, and the Nepal earthquake in 2015.
They concluded that the Commission’s management, through its 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre, had been broadly effective. The activation of the UCPM had, in general, been timely and the EU civil protection teams had helped to coordinate the participating countries’ teams on the ground. This work had been made more effective by the widespread sharing of information.
The auditors found that coordination among Commission departments, as well as with other EU and non-EU bodies, had been inclusive. The Commission had also respected the United Nations’ overall lead, and had taken steps to ensure a smooth transition into the recovery phase of the disasters.
“When a disaster occurs, the reaction must be swift. Sound disaster management saves lives, and effective coordination among different responders – as we found here – is critical to the successful preparation for and response to disasters,” said Hans Gustaf Wessberg, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “The Commission’s coordinating role and its round-the-clock crisis centre are good examples of value added by European cooperation.”