EU DISASTER RESPONSE
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister
for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman
Following a request from the Committee's Clerk,
please find enclosed for your information the "General Framework
for the use of ESDP Transportation Assets and Coordination tools
in Support of EU Disaster Response" (not printed). The European
Council approved this in May. The document proposes a framework
through which the Member, States' military transportation assets
and military chartered assets can be used and co-ordinated in
support of EU disaster response.
During the UK Presidency of the EU, the informal
meeting at Hampton Court considered how the EU could better coordinate
its disaster response efforts and requested that the Secretary
General/High Representative, Javier Solana, take forward work
to ensure that EU crisis management structures could meet new
demands upon them. In his response Solana highlighted the need
for "the maximum possible civilian/military integration"
and suggested the need for "arrangements for transport coordination
of the relief effort.. [which] should cover military assets made
available by Member States". The Framework builds upon his
proposals and experience of the relief efforts following the Algerian
The use of military transportation assets where
appropriate will improve the EU's capacity to respond to disasters
while the identification and coordination of these assets by the
EU Movement Planning Cell should ensure a more effective response.
The UK has been a strong supporter of such practical improvement
to the EU's crisis response procedures following the Tsunami of
2004. The paper also recognises the need for wider international
cooperation and the pre-eminent role of the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in overseeing this although
it does not go into detail.
The paper importantly respects two key principles
from the UK point of view. Firstly, that all national military
assets are provided on a voluntary case by case basis, recognising
that "prior operational tasking of the assets and political/financial
imperatives" may inform decisions. Secondly, existing institutions
are proposed to coordinate the transport assets, avoiding the
need to create new unnecessary structures.
The Council General Secretariat and Commission,
directed by the Member States, will now work up detailed procedures
to reflect this framework. This work is likely to take until the
end of 2006 and will require unanimous Member State approval before
the procedures are implemented.
28 June 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Geoff
Thank you for your letter dated 28 June 2006
which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on 13 July.
We welcome the High Representative's proposals
for the use of strategic airlift for disaster relief on a voluntary
basis by Member States. However, we consider that the procedures
and mechanisms are potentially too slow to cope in a crisis situation.
What is your view on the likely effectives of these procedures
and are there any plans in place to carry out a test exercise?
14 July 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP to the
Thank you for your letter of 14 July 2006 regarding
the discussion by Sub-Committee C of the "General Framework
for the use of ESDP Transportation Assets and Coordination in
Support of EU Disaster Response" on 13 July.
You commented that the procedures and mechanisms
outlined in the framework are potentially too slow to cope in
a crisis situation. The EU places the highest importance on being
able to respond rapidly to a crisis and is developing further
the means to allow it to do so.
In the case of a response to a natural disaster,
we expect that in most cases the initial response will be direct
bilateral aid offered by individual Member States and which therefore
would not require use of the procedures outlined in the document.
The Community's "ECHO" Directorate General would manage
the immediate humanitarian aid effort, in liaison with relevant
UN agencies and international organisations, and would be able
to deploy assessment teams from their network of offices around
We see the use of military assets, including
military transportation assets, as generally a last resort when
civilian alternatives are not available and once an assessment
of requirements has taken place. The proposed framework for co-ordinating
military transport assets in support of civilian-led disaster
response builds on the procedures already in place to improve
the co-ordination of strategic transportation assets for other
ESDP operations and we are confident that it will facilitate a
more rapid EU response.
You also asked whether there were any plans
to carry out a test exercise. The Finns have stated that under
their presidency of the EU they intend to hold an exercise to
test the EU's Crisis Coordination Arrangements. While the plans
for this exercise are still under development it should offer
the EU an opportunity to trial its disaster response arrangements.
25 July 2006