Tuesday, 20 January 2009

EU Law: Civil protection

The EU treaties and institutions are the bricks, but solidarity is the mortar of European integration.

Cooperation between member states and European Union action to protect EU citizens against natural or man-made disasters is one of the improvements of the Treaty of Lisbon.

On 9 May 1950 French foreign minister Robert Schuman said: Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.

Civil protection is an area where the Lisbon Treaty brings European reality one step closer to the words of the Schuman declaration.



***


TEC


There is no Title on civil protetion and no specific legal base in the current Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC). Cf. the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E.

This means that action has to be based on the unwieldy flexibility clause, Article 308 TEC, with a view to the operation of the common market and requiring unanimous decision by the Council. The European Parliament is only consulted.

Still, civil protection is not completely forgotten. Article 3(1)(u) TEC lists ‘measures in the spheres of energy, civil protection and tourism’ among the activities of the European Community, but without a legal base.



***


Draft Constitution

In Article III-184 of the draft Constitution the European Convention proposed a new legal base to improve protection against natural or man-made disasters within the European Union:

SECTION 5
Civil protection

Article III-184 Draft Constitution

1. The Union shall encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing and protecting against natural or man-made disasters within the Union.

Union action shall aim to:

(a) support and complement Member States' action at national, regional and local level in risk prevention, in preparing their civil-protection personnel and in responding to natural or man-made disasters;

(b) promote swift, effective operational cooperation between national civil-protection services;

(c) promote consistency in international civil-protection work.

2. The measures necessary to help achieve the objectives referred to in paragraph 1 shall be enacted in European laws or framework laws, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.


-----

In conjunction with this, you could read the new Solidarity clause Article I-42, primarily aimed at terrorist attacks, and Article III-231 Implementation of the solidarity clause, proposed by the European Convention.


***

Constitutional Treaty


The IGC 2004 took over the proposal by the European Convention. Article III-281 of the Constitution on civil protection:

SECTION 6
CIVIL PROTECTION

Article III_284 Constitution

1. The Union shall encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing and protecting against natural or man-made disasters.

Union action shall aim to:

(a) support and complement Member States' action at national, regional and local level in risk prevention, in preparing their civil_protection personnel and in responding to natural or man_made disasters within the Union;

(b) promote swift, effective operational cooperation within the Union between national civil_protection services;

(c) promote consistency in international civil protection work.

2. European laws or framework laws shall establish the measures necessary to help achieve the objectives referred to in paragraph 1, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.


-----

You could read Article I-43 Solidarity clause and Article III-329 Implementation of the solidarity clause of the Constitutional Treaty.


***


Original Lisbon Treaty (ToL)

Article 2, point 149 inserted a new Title XXII Civil protection and a new Article 176c (OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/89–90):

CIVIL PROTECTION

149) The following new Title XXII and new Article 176 C shall be inserted:

‘TITLE XXII
CIVIL PROTECTION

Article 176 C

1. The Union shall encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing and protecting against natural or man-made disasters.

Union action shall aim to:

(a) support and complement Member States' action at national, regional and local level in risk prevention, in preparing their civil-protection personnel and in responding to natural or man-made disasters within the Union;

(b) promote swift, effective operational cooperation within the Union between national civilprotection services;

(c) promote consistency in international civil-protection work.

2. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish the measures necessary to help achieve the objectives referred to in paragraph 1, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.’.



***


Renumbering the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL)

The Table of equivalences of the original Treaty of Lisbon tells us that the new Title XXII Civil protection in the TFEU (ToL) was renumbered Title XXIII Civil protection in the consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty.

Article 176c TFEU (ToL) was renumbered Article 196 TFEU in the consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty (OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/218).


***


Lisbon Treaty consolidated

Article 196 TFEU

Article 196 TFEU appears like this in the consolidated version of the Treaty of Lisbon (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/135–136):

TITLE XXIII
CIVIL PROTECTION

Article 196 TFEU

1. The Union shall encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing and protecting against natural or man-made disasters.

Union action shall aim to:

(a) support and complement Member States' action at national, regional and local level in risk prevention, in preparing their civil-protection personnel and in responding to natural or man-made disasters within the Union;

(b) promote swift, effective operational cooperation within the Union between national civil-protection services;

(c) promote consistency in international civil-protection work.

2. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure shall establish the measures necessary to help achieve the objectives referred to in paragraph 1, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.

***

Lisbon Treaty changes

The Lisbon Treaty would give EU measures against natural and man-made disasters a new legal base. The ordinary legislative procedure would apply, enabling a qualified Council majority to get things done. The European Parliament would participate as an equal co-legislator.



Ralf Grahn