Tuesday, 20 January 2009

EU solidarity and civil protection

The previous blog post evoked the words of the Schuman declaration: 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 French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950.

In the preceding post, we looked at the drafting history of Title XXIII Civil protection and Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

We now take a look at the Title Solidarity clause and its Article 222 TFEU, as an example of the growing readiness of EU governments and citizens to assist each other in a spirit of solidarity.

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


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Solidarity clause

The Lisbon Treaty would amalgamate the Solidarity clause and the implementing clause of the Constitutional Treaty (and the draft Constitution) in Article 222 TFEU:

TITLE VII
SOLIDARITY CLAUSE

Article 222 TFEU

1. The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster. The Union shall mobilise all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States, to:

(a) — prevent the terrorist threat in the territory of the Member States;

— protect democratic institutions and the civilian population from any terrorist attack;

— assist a Member State in its territory, at the request of its political authorities, in the event of a terrorist attack;

(b) assist a Member State in its territory, at the request of its political authorities, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

2. Should a Member State be the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster, the other Member States shall assist it at the request of its political authorities. To that end, the Member States shall coordinate between themselves in the Council.

3. The arrangements for the implementation by the Union of the solidarity clause shall be defined by a decision adopted by the Council acting on a joint proposal by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Council shall act in accordance with Article 31(1) of the Treaty on European Union where this decision has defence implications. The European Parliament shall be informed.

For the purposes of this paragraph and without prejudice to Article 240, the Council shall be assisted by the Political and Security Committee with the support of the structures developed in the context of the common security and defence policy and by the Committee referred to in Article 71; the two committees shall, if necessary, submit joint opinions.

4. The European Council shall regularly assess the threats facing the Union in order to enable the Union and its Member States to take effective action.


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Declaration 37

The European de facto solidarity is an evolving project. At this stage the member states have accepted the principles of solidarity and mutual assistance, but they still feel the need to emphasise that they decide on how they are going to comply with their obligation.

Article 222 TFEU is thus tempered by joint Declaration 37 annexed to the Final Act of the IGC 2007:



37. Declaration on Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

Without prejudice to the measures adopted by the Union to comply with its solidarity obligation towards a Member State which is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of natural or man-made disaster, none of the provisions of Article 222 is intended to affect the right of another Member State to choose the most appropriate means to comply with its own solidarity obligation towards that Member State.


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Competence

Let us return to civil protection (Article 196 TFEU).

In the general classification of EU competence in different policy areas, civil protection appears among the seven policy areas of supporting, coordinating or supplementing action, in Article 6(f) TFEU:

Article 6 TFEU

The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be:

(a) protection and improvement of human health;

(b) industry;

(c) culture;

(d) tourism;

(e) education, vocational training, youth and sport;

(f) civil protection;

(g) administrative cooperation.



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Civil protection summary

The Commission’s Scadplus pages offer summaries of legislation in different areas of EU policy. The web page Civil protection offers links to relevant civil protection issues:



http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/s15007.htm


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Commission activities

In the European Commission, the Directorate-General Environment and Commissioner Stavros Dimas are responsible for civil protection. The Environment home page is available here:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/index_en.htm


European Civil Protection is a more precise location for current activities in this field:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/civil/index.htm


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Civil Protection Financial Instrument 2007–2013


The centrepiece of continuous EU level action is contained in the Council Decision No 2007/162/EC, Euratom of 5 March 2007 establishing a Civil Protection Financial Instrument, a text with EEA relevance, published OJEU 10.3.2007 L 71/9:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:071:0009:0017:EN:PDF


The legal base is still Article 308 TEC, the flexibility clause, since the Constitutional Treaty had not entered into force and the IGC 2007 leading to the Lisbon Treaty was only being prepared by the German Council Presidency.

Article 1 presents the subject matter of the Civil Protection Financial Instrument from 2007 to 2013 and Article 2 offers a more exact picture of the scope, including related EC legal acts:



Article 1
Subject matter

1. This Decision establishes a Civil Protection Financial Instrument (the Instrument) to support and complement the efforts of the Member States for the protection, primarily of people but also of the environment and property, including cultural heritage, in the event of natural and man-made disasters, acts of terrorism and technological, radiological or environmental accidents and to facilitate reinforced cooperation between the Member States in the field of civil protection.

The Instrument shall cover the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013.

2. This Decision lays down the rules for the provision of financial assistance for:

(a) actions in the field of the Community mechanism to facilitate reinforced cooperation in civil protection assistance interventions (the Mechanism);

(b) measures to prevent or reduce the effects of an emergency; and

(c) actions designed to enhance the Community's state of preparedness for responses to emergencies, including actions enhancing EU citizens' awareness.

3. This Decision makes special provisions to fund certain transport resources in the event of a major emergency, to facilitate a rapid and effective response thereto.

4. This Decision shall take into account the special needs of isolated, outermost and other regions or islands of the Community in the case of an emergency.


Article 2
Scope

1. This Decision shall apply to preventive and preparedness measures for all kinds of emergencies inside the Community and in countries participating on the basis of Article 7.

2. This Decision shall apply to actions to assist with the response to the immediate consequences of a major emergency regardless of its nature, including the response to accidental marine pollution emergencies through the Mechanism, inside or outside the Community, where a request is made for assistance in accordance with the Mechanism.

3. This Decision shall not apply to the following:

(a) actions falling under Regulation (EC) No 1717/2006;

(b) actions and measures falling under Community legislation concerning Community action programmes in the field of health;

(c) actions and measures falling under Decision No 1926/2006/EC;

(d) actions falling under Decision 2007/124/EC, Euratom;

(e) actions falling under Regulation (EC) No 1257/96, without prejudice to Article 4(2)(c) of this Decision;

(f) actions falling under Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002.


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Mechanism for civil protection assistance interventions


Even under the current decision-making constraints, the EU member states have realised the importance of being able to respond quickly and resourcefully to disasters affecting EU citizens.

The EC’s previous Mechanism for civil protection assistance intervention (2001/792/EC, Euratom) was beefed up and recast in 2007.

Council Decision 2007/779/EC, Euratom of 8 November 2007 establishing a Community Civil Protection Mechanism (recast), text with EEA relevance, published OJEU 1.12.2007 L 314/9, is available here:


http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:314:0009:0019:EN:PDF

The aim of the Community Mechanism is to facilitate reinforced cooperation between the Community and the Member States in civil protection assistance intervention in the event of major emergencies, or the imminent threat thereof.

The Mechanism covers primarily people but also the environment and property, including cultural heritage, in the event of natural and man-made disasters, acts of terrorism and, technological, radiological or environmental accidents, including accidental marine pollution, occurring inside or outside the Community.

The Mechanism takes account of the special needs of the isolated, outermost and other regions or islands of the Community.

The Mechanism consists of a series of elements and actions including:

1. the identification of intervention teams and other intervention support available in Member States for assistance intervention in the event of emergencies;

2. the setting-up and implementation of a training programme for intervention teams and other intervention support, and for experts for the teams responsible for assessment and/or coordination;

3. workshops, seminars and pilot projects on major aspects of interventions;

4. the establishment and dispatch of assessment and/or coordination teams;

5. the establishment and management of a Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), which is accessible and able to react immediately 24 hours a day and serving the Member States and the Commission for the purposes of the Mechanism;

6. the establishment and management of a Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) to enable communication and sharing of information between the MIC and the contact points of the Member States;

7. contributing to the development of detection and early warning systems for disasters which may affect the territory of the Member States, in order to enable a rapid response by the Member States and the Community, as well as to their establishment through studies and assessments on the need for and feasibility of those systems and through actions to promote their interlinkage and their linkage to the MIC and the CECIS:

8. supporting Member States in obtaining access to equipment and transport resources by:

(a) providing and sharing information on equipment and transport resources that can be made available by the Member States, with a view to facilitating the pooling of such equipment or transport resources;

(b) assisting Member States to identify, and facilitating their access to, transport resources that may be available from other sources, including the commercial market;

(c) assisting Member States to identify equipment that may be available from other sources including the commercial market;

9. complementing the transport provided by Member States by providing additional transport resources necessary for ensuring a rapid response to major emergencies;

10. supporting consular assistance to EU citizens in major emergencies in third countries regarding civil protection activities if requested by the consular authorities of the Member States;

11. other supporting and complementary action necessary in the framework of the Mechanism as mentioned in Article 4 of Council Decision 2007/162/EC, Euratom of 5 March 2007 establishing a Civil Protection Financial Instrument (Article 1).


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Effective civil protection is a core element of solidarity between EU nations and citizens. The Lisbon Treaty would improve the prospects.





Ralf Grahn