The Commission has been working 24/7 since Sweden requested EU assistance to battle the unprecedented forest fires as hundreds of hectares burn in the regions of Jamtland, Gavleborg, Dalarna, Norrbotten and Västerbotten.
Earlier this week, the Commission mobilised firefighting aircrafts from Italy and France through the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which have since been operating in the affected areas. Further EU support has now been offered by Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Denmark.
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: “The EU stands by the Swedish government and the Swedish people in their time of need. I would like to thank all countries for their quick offers of help through our EU Civil Protection Mechanism. We have helped mobilise many planes, helicopters, vehicles and ground forces to address the massive needs. We are in contact with other countries for possible additional support. This is solidarity in action. This is what our citizens expect in a Europe that protects.”
After a request for assistance from Sweden on 16 July 2018, the following has been channeled through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism:
The EU’s emergency Copernicus satellite is also helping Sweden provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas.
The European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre, which monitors natural disasters 24/7, is in contact with the Swedish civil protection authorities and is closely monitoring developments and any other assistance that could be requested.
The Commission’s Emergency Response Centre is actively monitoring emergencies throughout Europe, including fires. It uses national monitoring services and tools such as the European Forest Fire Information System and satellite imagery to provide an overview of the situation in Europe. Over the summer period, the centre also organises weekly coordination meetings with the countries that are at high risk of forest fires.
Civil Protection Mechanism
The European Commission coordinates the voluntary offers made by participating states though the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and can co-finance the transport of relief items and experts to the country in question. The mobilisation of assistance is coordinated through the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre, which closely monitors developments and offers the possibility of transport co-financing for the offered assistance.
The assistance can consist of items for immediate relief as well as experts and supporting intervention teams. In the case of fires, this can include fire-extinguishing aircraft. The Commission cannot send planes or equipment itself via the Mechanism.
Overall, the Mechanism facilitates the cooperation in disaster response among 34 European states (28 EU Member States, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey).