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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© European Union, 2019

What is it?

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, fully funded by the EU. It includes a fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters, a medical evacuation plane, and a stockpile of medical items and field hospitals that can respond to health emergencies.

The rescEU reserve also includes shelters, transport and logistics assets and energy supply items.

Reserves are also being developed to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) risks. These include decontamination and detection, as well as reserves of CBRN medical countermeasures.

Why is this important?

The EU plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond. Disasters have affected every region of Europe in recent years, causing hundreds of casualties and billions in damage to infrastructure and the environment.

Epidemics, flash floods, storms, forest fires, earthquakes, and human-induced disasters continuously put pressure on the countries’ response capacities. Additionally, security concerns have become more complex and climate change is expected to worsen the impact of disasters in the future.

2 people handing over a box from a plane
© European Union, 2020

Conflict on the European continent, extreme weather conditions and emerging threats, such as COVID-19, have overwhelmed the ability of Member States to help each other, especially when several countries simultaneously face the same type of crisis.

In such cases, when Member States require a boost to provide a strong response to crises, the EU provides an extra layer of protection. Through the rescEU reserve, the EU ensures a faster and more comprehensive response.

How are we helping?

When an emergency hits, any country can request assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Once activated, the EU channels assistance from EU Member States and 10 participating states through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

To guarantee an even more effective response to disasters, the rescEU reserve was established in 2019 as an additional layer of protection.

War in Ukraine

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related medical needs for Ukrainians inside the country and the whole region, the EU has deployed medical evacuation services as well as assistance from its rescEU medical/CBRN, energy and shelter stockpiles hosted in various locations across the EU.

rescEU at a glance

Facts & figures

rescEU is an extra layer of citizen protection in Europe, integrated into the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

rescEU strengthens European preparedness for disasters.

It responds to crises in Europe and beyond by building capacities  such as:

  • wildfire assets
  • medical capabilities
  • chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) capabilities
  • strategic stockpiles of medical and CBRN items
  • mobile shelters
  • emergency transportation
  • electricity supplies

rescEU is 100% EU-financed, including costs for purchase, operations, and maintenance.

Last updated: 14/05/2024