Skip to main content
Norwegian firefighter during an exercise

A summer of disasters – How did the UCPM respond?

Published on

The summer of 2023 has seen Europe battered by heatwaves, record-breaking wildfires, and catastrophic floods, often occurring simultaneously. Parts of Greece, Italy and Spain saw record-breaking temperatures above 45°C.

By Knowledge Network – Staff member

The wildfire in Alexandroupolis in Greece was the largest wildfire in Europe since records started in 2000, burning an area of more than 90 000 hectares and killing at least 20 people. At the same time, other parts of Europe experienced significantly more rainfall than average, resulting in UCPM activations for floods in Slovenia and Italy, while exceptionally large floods were also recorded in Greece, Austria, and northern European countries such as Sweden and Norway. Ireland potentially experienced its wettest July on record.

For the UCPM, the extreme weather meant responding to extraordinary situations. For the first time, on 6 August, the UCPM was activated within the same day for both flood and wildfire disasters, when flooding affected two thirds of Slovenia and wildfires raged in Cyprus. From May to August, the Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) facilitated around the clock large-scale operations to respond to floods in Italy and Slovenia as well as wildfires in Cyprus, Tunisia, Italy, Canada, and twice in Greece. 


In parallel to the response to these disasters, the ERCC also coordinated the repatriation of EU citizens from Niger, the evacuation of burn victims after the industrial accident in Romania, and the response to the wildfires in Canada. All of these operations came on top of the ongoing coordination of assistance to Ukraine in the largest and most complex UCPM activation so far. 

The performance of the UCPM this summer stands as proof of the diversity of types of response the Union can provide and the ERCC’s ability to coordinate and manage several very different crises simultaneously, while operating at full capacity. 

“As disasters break records year after year in a context of heightened insecurity across the globe, we must ensure that the ERCC, as the Commission’s cross-sectoral crisis hub, is equipped to fulfil its role with all the tools and resources necessary for joint situational awareness, early warning, anticipation, information exchange and operational coordination”

1 Like

About the author

The Knowledge Network – Staff member

The Knowledge Network editorial team is here to share the news and stories of the Knowledge Network community. We'd love to hear your news, events and personal stories about your life in civil protection and disaster risk management. If you've got a story to share, please contact us.



Thematic series

European forest fire season