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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
News article20 December 2023Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)

EU funds further strategic reserves for medical, chemical, biological and radio-nuclear emergencies worth €690 million

Person seen from the back, the EU Civil Protection shown, standing in front of a desinfection tent.
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Daria Ortiz Suardy)


The Commission is allocating today around €690 million to Czechia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Romania to further develop the rescEU strategic reserves of medical and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) items.

The reserves are part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism’s rescEU medical stocks funded by the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). This new funding brings the number of rescEU hosting countries to 16, with 21 medical or CBRN reserves, strategically distributed across the EU.

These stocks encompass countermeasures that pose a significant risk of rapid depletion or increased demand during crisis scenarios, including:

  • therapeutics such as intensive care medicines, antibiotics, vaccines, antidotes;
  • medical devices, personal protective equipment and items to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear events.

These grants to Member States aim to greatly enhance the quality and quantity of the reserves' composition for different crisis situations and addressing the long-term sustainability of the stocks.

The new funding builds on existing reserves already set up in Croatia, France, Poland and Finland.

Commissioner for Crisis Management said Janez Lenarčič: “rescEU's medical and CBRN strategic reserves are essential for Europe to be well-prepared to respond effectively in the new disaster risk landscape. They complement Member States' preparedness to respond to major emergencies impacting public health across Europe."

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “Today's strategic reserve, funded and constituted through the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, will reinforce the EU's capacity to respond fast in case of potential serious cross border health threats. We must be prepared for the top threats of tomorrow and with today’s action we are one step stronger. This is an essential piece of the puzzle for preparedness in a strong European Health Union.”

Background

Since their establishment in 2020, the rescEU strategic reserves have been mobilised multiple times, proving to be a crucial response tool during major crises. Such as during the COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and, more recently, in the context of the earthquakes in Türkiye.

Following the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, rescEU provides an extra layer of protection and ensures a faster and more comprehensive response to disasters. The rescEU reserve is 100% EU-financed and the EU Commission maintains, in close cooperation with the country hosting the reserve, control of their operation. In an emergency, the rescEU reserve provides assistance to all EU Member States, Participating States to the Mechanism and can also be deployed to EU neighbouring countries.   

The Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) has been set up to strengthen Europe’s ability to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to cross-border health emergencies, be it natural or man made threat. HERA is doing so by funding the development, manufacturing, procurement, and deployment of key medical countermeasures and equipment.