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What you need to know about the ECPP

Published on 15 June 2022

When an emergency overwhelms national response capacities, the affected Country can request international assistance through the UCPM. Since the establishment of the European Civil Protection Pool (ECPP), the assistance takes the form of a safety net of pre-committed capacities that Member States and Participating States can deploy at short notice.

Published by Knowledge Network – Staff member

What is the European Civil Protection Pool (ECPP)?

The European Civil Protection Pool (ECCP), also more commonly called “the Pool”, was established in 2013. Through the ECCP, UCPM Member and Participating states commit to make national assets available for one or more years for UCPM emergency operations.  After undergoing a certification process ensuring that the committed capacities are suitable for UCPM operations, the assets become available for immediate deployments worldwide. The European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) coordinates these operations whenever there is a request for assistance by the affected states or an international organisation. 

Why the ECPP?

The Pool makes it more predictable that key emergency response teams and assets are available, and helps fill critical gaps in the Member States’ capacity to jointly respond to disasters. This allowed moving from an ad-hoc system of offered response capacities, to a more predictable one, coupled with a structured process to identify potential capacity gaps.

MS/PS currently offer 115 registered capacities in the Pool (April 2022). This number is updated regularly by the ERCC and published, together with the geographic distribution of the capacities offered, in the ERCC Products > Maps section.

Also experts can be deployed in UCPM response operations. They are identified in a ad hoc manner, according to the needs and following the requests of the affected state. The Commission is currently working on setting up an “ECPP for experts” that will allow Participating States to pre-commit experts, or categories of experts, hence making the availability of experts more predictable and their deployment quicker.

The ECPP does not include at present in-kind contributions (=relief items).

How are resources added to the ECCP?

The process is initiated by the entity owning the capacity: it can be the national CP authority or one of its affiliated entities (a regional authority, an NGO etc). In all cases the application to the Pool must be endorsed by the national CP authority. Below some information on the process, step by step.

Commitment and application

  • The designated national public (civil protection) authority provides a written commitment to the Commission, explaining that it has taken the political decision to contribute resources to the Pool.
  • It then submits the completed application form, along with the supporting documentation, including the capacity’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the factsheet, the “identity card” of the capacity offered. This is an important step because the Commission will assess the capacity based on the information provided. In particular, in the application, it is required to specify:
    • the detailed description of the resource offered;
    • its standard operating procedures;
    • a self-assessment that the capacity fulfils the quality requirements laid down in the legislation ;
    • if the capacity still needs to be upgraded to make it deployable, an estimate of how and when this will be achieved;
    • a description of the arrangements in place to allow for the resource’s immediate deployment.

If the application is accepted, the Commission will agree a timeline with the MS/PS on scheduling the key steps of the certification process.

The certification process

When the application has been accepted, the resource will need to be certified to ensure that it meets the high operational standards that assure quality of UCPM operations. In particular, the objective is to ascertain that the capacity has the desired level of self-sufficiency, is interoperable with other capacities and able to coordinate with these and the affected State and meets minimum technical requirements.

The certification is conducted by DG ECHO and follows a three-step process:

Step 1 - Consultative visit: an extended meeting between the applicant and the responsible desk officer in the Commission, to discuss, verify or complement the information provided in the application.

Step 2 - Table-top exercise: an assessment of the decision-making and managerial preparations associated with the deployment of your resource.

Step 3 - Field exercise: the final step of the certification process, which provides an opportunity to test the resource in a ‘real-life’ capacity in order to see how it would fare in a deployment scenario.

“When a team goes through the certification process it has the opportunity to test its internal procedures, its equipment and to immerse itself in a simulated major international emergency. By doing so it will develop new skills and competences and it prepares for the next real deployment. This is the essence of the certification process: learning by doing”.

Derogations from the three-step certification process are accepted only for those capacities for which international quality standards exists. This is the case for:

  • Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) teams (medium and heavy), which are subject to the INSARAG Classification;
  • Emergency medical teams (EMT) (types 1, 2, 3 and specialised care), which are subject to the verification process of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The ECPP certification process helped us - through its three-step process - to verify that our procedures, operational capacity and self-sufficiency adhere to the legislative standards that are needed. In addition, it encouraged constant improvement of the capacity’s performance”.

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Published by Knowledge Network – Staff member

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