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.
What assets does the Pool include?
The Pool includes response capacities, each being a combination of material and human means.
The response capacity is defined as a module when it complies with the minimum operational and technical requirements defined in the UCPM legislation.
The modules cover a wide range of resources, such as urban search and rescue teams, forest fire fighting capacities, emergency medical teams, water purification equipment or high-capacity pumping.
The complete overview of all the modules and their general requirements are listed in the Annex II of the Commission Implementing Decision of 16 October 2014.
When such requirements do not exist, the response capacity is an Other Response Capacity (ORC).
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).
Why would a Member or Participating State commit capacities to the Pool?
By committing capacities to the Pool a Member or Participating State shows it belongs to the EU family and participates to the UCPM. This is a visible expression of European solidarity ensuring a practical and timely contribution to preventing, preparing for and responding to disasters and imminent disasters.
In addition, the certification process represents a valuable opportunity to strengthen the knowledge-base and performance of national capacities according to key criteria. These include for instance whether the response capacity is self-sufficient during deployment, how far the response capacity is interoperable with other capacities, preparedness for mobilisation and deployment in international contexts, efficient coordination with other capacities or response actors etc.
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.
Upon successful completion of the certification process, the response capacity is invited to register in the ECCP section of the Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) database as part of the ECPP.
Modules, technical assistance and support teams, other response capacity, or experts need to undergo re-certification after 5 years at the latest.
Source: Certification Guidelines.
The Commission also provides financial support in the form of ‘adaptation grants’, which aim to upgrade or repair pre-existing capacities so that they are ready for international response operations under the UCPM and can be effectively deployed. It is possible to apply for financial support at any time during the certification process, or after the capacity is certified.
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).
How does the ECCP function?
Pool capacities remain under the command and control of the hosting Participating State but should be in principle available for deployments in UCPM response operations. When a disaster strikes, the ERCC, in close cooperation with the Member States and Participating States, facilitates a coordinated deployment of the European response capacities. Financial support is available for covering operational and transport costs in case of deployment.
There are, however, instances where the MS/PS can indicate that the capacities are currently unavailable, e.g. domestic emergencies, force majeure, and other serious reasons. Personnel deployed in the context of the Union Mechanism is trained through the Union Mechanism training programme, an essential element for the preparedness of civil protection and disaster management. Other elements of the Pool’s quality assurance include regular exercises of the capacities, expert exchange among peers in Member States and Participating States, etc.
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