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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
News article25 March 2024Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)2 min read

EU provides €600 million to strengthen rescEU firefighting fleet

© European Union, 2022

The Commission is financing the purchase of new firefighting planes to increase the aerial firefighting capacity of rescEU, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism's strategic crisis response reserve.

€600 million in EU funds will be used to purchase 12 new planes, which will be hosted across 6 EU Member States: Croatia, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

These planes will be used to extinguish fires across the European Union, in particular during the difficult summer months when lives, homes and livelihoods are coming increasingly under threat to large scale forest fires.

The announcement comes as Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, participated in Zagreb today in the signature ceremony of the agreement between the government of Croatia and the Canadian Commercial Corporation to purchase specialised firefighting aircraft.

This, together with the signature of a similar agreement by the government of Greece recently, marks an important step in increasing the aerial firefighting capacity in the EU, protecting EU citizens from disasters.

5 years ago, the European Commission upgraded the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and created rescEU to further protect citizens from disasters and manage emerging risks. rescEU was established as a reserve of European capacities, and it includes a fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters. rescEU is fully funded by the EU.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: "It has been a couple of years since the European Commission has initiated the process to scale up aerial firefighting capacities in Europe. I congratulate Croatia as well as Greece, who were the earliest to sign into reality the first planes of what will form a new generation of European firefighting aerial capacity. And I thank Canada for facilitating these agreements with the company concerned resuming production of these very much needed planes. This is an important step to acquiring the aircraft which will help protect citizens not just in Croatia and Greece but across Europe. It will be 100% paid for by the European Commission as part of our strengthened rescEU firefighting capacity ready to fight ever more intense wildfires in Europe."


The EU ensures a coordinated approach to preventing, preparing and responding to wildfires when those overwhelm national response capacities. When the scale of a wildfire overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Once activated, the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre coordinates and finances assistance made available by 27 EU Member States and 10 Participating States (Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Türkiye, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Moldova and Ukraine) through spontaneous offers.

On 25 March 2024, the government of Croatia signed an agreement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation about the purchase of the medium amphibious aircraft. The government of Greece signed a similar agreement with the Canadian producer on 24 March. 6 EU Member States (Greece, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal) will host the new aerial firefighting fleet being financed by the Commission under rescEU.