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To the RescEU: masks delivered to Croatia, Montenegro, N.Macedonia and Serbia

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Today, the EU is delivering further FFP2 masks to Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia from rescEU – the common European reserve of medical equipment created to help countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

”While we observe positive evolutions of lower infection rates in some areas, more work needs to be done to prevent a further or reoccurring spread of the coronavirus – and protective masks are essential in this fight. Today, we are sending 65.000 additional protective masks to Croatia and our neighbours in the Western Balkans on top of previous deliveries. I thank Romania for hosting and transporting the rescEU equipment to those in need”,

said Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez LenarčičToday’s support comes on top of 370.000 masks already delivered from the rescEU reserve, as well as in-kind assistance provided to countries in need via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and via bilateral offers from EU Member States. Romania and Germany are the first Member States to host the rescEU reserve, and are therefore responsible for procuring medical items such as personal protective equipment. The Commission finances 100% of the procurement, maintenance and delivery costs.

What is RescEU?

In 2019, the EU reinforced and strengthened components of its disaster risk management by upgrading the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The latest element introduced – rescEU – has the objective of enhancing both the protection of citizens from disasters and the management of emerging risks. In addition, rescEU establishes a new European reserve of resources (the ‘rescEU reserve’) which includes a fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters, medical evacuation planes, as well as a stockpile of medical equipment and field hospitals that can respond to health emergencies, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents.

The European Union plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond. Disasters have affected every region of Europe in recent years, causing hundreds of casualties and billions in damage to infrastructure and the environment. Epidemics, flash floods, storms, forest fires, earthquakes, and man-made disasters are continuously putting countries’ response capabilities under pressure. Additionally, security concerns have become more complex and climate change is expected to worsen the impact of disasters in the future.

Extreme weather conditions and emerging threats, such as the coronavirus, have overwhelmed the ability of Member States to help each other, especially when several countries face the same type of disaster simultaneously. In such cases, when Member States are unable to assist each other due to the high risks faced by each country, the EU provides an extra layer of protection. Through the rescEU reserve, the EU ensures a faster and more comprehensive response.

The new legislative framework also leads to a stronger European Civil Protection Pool, as well as a better-strategised approach to training through a European Civil Protection Knowledge Network. In addition, it offers Member States significant incentives to enhance their national capacities through additional financing to adapt, operate and repair their resources.

When the scale of an emergency overwhelms the possibilities of a country to respond on its own, it can request assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Once activated, the EU channels through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre the offers of assistance made available by its Member States and Participating States. To guarantee an effective response to disasters at all times, the rescEU reserve was established in 2019.

As an additional safety net, the European Commission created a strategic rescEU medical stockpile and distribution mechanism under the umbrella of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The stockpile enables the swift delivery of medical equipment such as ventilators, personal protective equipment, vaccines and therapeutics and laboratory supplies. The stockpile, hosted by several EU Member States allows the EU to react to health crises more quickly. Tens of thousands of protective masks coming from the strategic rescEU distribution centres in Romania and Germany were distributed to countries who need them most. More medical and personal protective equipment is being acquired for those strategic rescEU reserve.

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