Civil society in civil protection
In October 2001, the European Commission established the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) The Mechanism aims to strengthen cooperation between the EU countries and 9 participating states on civil protection to improve prevention, preparedness, and response to disasters. EU Member States and participating states commit national resources for emergency response to the European Civil Protection Pool (ECPP) and can request assistance in case of emergency.
The national civil protection systems in Europe are very different in terms of operational structures and strategies – with the exception that they all depend on the work of qualified volunteers and civil society organisations active in the field.
The SAMARITAN INTERNATIONAL network includes members who have registered units within the UCPM, as well as members who provide crisis preparedness and response outside of the Union Mechanism.
Disaster relief requires short-term availability of personnel and material resources. With increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events affecting whole regions, cross-border help is becoming even more necessary in civil protection. Especially in cases of natural disaster, the scope of effects is hardly ever foreseeable. Therefore it is essential to have sufficient personnel in form of volunteers, who have been properly trained and can provide the required assistance according to need.
The expansion of cross-border collaboration in the field of civil protection is an important issue for the SAMARITAN INTERNATIONAL network, not only to exchange best practices and to learn from each other, but also to be able to draw on bilateral or multilateral contacts in emergencies, to be able to receive support in a fast and unbureaucratic manner from within the network.
While SAMARITAN INTERNATIONAL recognizes that the Union Civil Protection Mechanism has to be primarily based on the national contact points, SAM.I. believes that civil society organisations will play an increasing role in disaster preparedness and response, especially in view of the effects of climate change.
Therefore, SAMARITAN INTERNATIONAL advocates for a structured dialogue on European level between the European Commission, national authorities and civil society active in civil protection to further improve and develop a comprehensive civil protection network. In addition, dedicated EU funding instruments are needed to support the work of civil society in this sector.