Europaparlaments- og rådsbeslutning (EU) .../... om endring av beslutning (EU) 2013/1313 om en ordning for sivil beredskap i Unionen
EUs ordning for sivil beredskap: forlengelse av beredskapspoolen rescEU for 2025-2027
- Europaparlamentets plenumsbehandling 17.10.2023
BAKGRUNN (fra Kommisjonsforslaget)
The proposal is intended to amend Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism (‘the Decision’), under which the European Union supports, coordinates and supplements the actions of Member States in the field of civil protection to prevent, prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters within and outside the Union.
The sole purpose of the proposed change is to ensure that the Union can continue providing emergency support to Member States in fighting wildfires through the capacities developed under the ‘rescEU transition’, until the permanent European aerial forest firefighting fleet will become available. In concrete terms, this proposal suggests extending the end of the transitional period referred to in Article 35 from 1 January 2025 to 31 December 2027. This date is aligned with the end of the current Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).
With rising temperatures and prolonged periods of drought, the wildfire risk in the Union is increasing in scope and the wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense. The 2022 wildfire season in the Union was a record-breaking season. The total number of wildfires in the Union above 30 hectares totalled 2 707. 786 316 hectares (over three times the size of Luxembourg) of land were burnt. This amount has significantly increased compared to the year before (416 413 hectares). Furthermore, the data for 2022 reveal a more than 250% increase over the average burnt area of land since Union-level recording started in 2006. Wildfires have become a serious pan-European concern, affecting not only the Mediterranean region, but also countries including Czech Republic, Germany and Slovenia, as demonstrated by their recent activations of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism. As a notable example, Sweden experienced severe wildfires in 2018. In 2022, 20 Member States have recorded more burned areas than their average over previous years.
As demonstrated by the wildfire seasons of recent years, the environmental, climatic, economic and societal losses associated with wildfires are immense. In 2022 alone, the wildfires have led to estimated economic losses above EUR 2 billion, and more than 25 million tonnes of CO2 emitted. Approximately 35% of the burnt areas in 2022 are included in Natura 2000 sites.
This alarming acceleration of wildfires across Europe is expected to continue in the coming years due to the impact of climate change. President Von der Leyen addressed this concern in her State of the Union speech in September 2022, where she stated that “as disasters become more frequent and more intense, Europe will need more capacity. This is why I can today announce that we will double our firefighting capacity over the next year.”
With an amendment to the Decision in 2019, rescEU was created as a European reserve of capacities to provide assistance in overwhelming situations where overall existing capacities at national level and those pre-committed by Member States to the European Civil Protection Pool are not able or are insufficient to ensure an effective response to the various kinds of disasters. Such capacities have been developed, in particular, in the area of aerial forest firefighting to supplement national capacities. While some of those capacities are readily accessible on the market and can be purchased relatively quickly, the availability of the aerial forest firefighting capacities takes more time. To ensure a smooth transition towards the full implementation of rescEU, the Commission was empowered, for a transitional period of an initial five years, to provide financing to ensure the rapid availability of relevant national capacities. It was also specified that the Commission and the Member States should endeavour to obtain additional capacities, including fire-fighting helicopters, in order to better and more efficiently respond to the risk of wildfires, as early as the summer of 2019. It was estimated at the time, based on a market study on currently available aerial forest firefighting assets released on 9 July 2018, that five years would be sufficient, in particular for specialised aircraft to be accessible once again on the market, allowing for the development of permanent fleet. Therefore, an end date of 1 January 2025 was introduced in Article 35 of the Decision for the application of that transitional provision. However, recent market developments and more specifically, the absence of the required highly-specialised aircraft on the market show that a longer timeframe (beyond 2024) is needed for the development of amphibious aerial forest firefighting aircraft. The negotiations with the manufacturer of such specialised aircraft are in their final stage; the delivery of such first planes at an agreed cost is expected to start in 2026 according to the latest reassurances provided by the manufacturer. Thus, the end date set out in Article 35 needs to be further extended until the end of the current MFF, which is 31 December 2027. This period would cover the entire MFF financial envelope of the UCPM in accordance with Article 19.1a.
This proposal is meant to ensure the rapid availability of relevant national capacities beyond the 2024 wildfire season, when the application of the current transitional provision is set to expire. The contracts will need to be prepared well in advance, in 2024, for the deployment of aerial forest firefighting capacities. As a result, the Decision needs to be amended in the current legislature period to allow for the preparations to start in 2024. Therefore, it is urgent that the co-legislators deliberate swiftly on this targeted proposal