The EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) was set up in 2013 as a voluntary system to help member states deal with increasingly frequent natural disasters. Since 2019, when rescEU was created, the EU can jointly procure resources to assist countries hit by disasters when national capacity is overstretched.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, the UCPM facilitated the repatriation of over 90,000 EU citizens from all over the world. Over 1.3 million protective masks, along with ventilators, personal protective equipment, therapeutics and other supplies have been procured and deployed through rescEU to support national health services. A new strategic rescEU medical reserve, currently hosted by nine EU countries, allows the EU to react to crises more quickly.
During the April plenary the European Parliament adopted a strengthened EU legal framework for civil protection, in response to the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. The mechanism aims to ensure the EU and its member states will be better prepared to respond to large-scale disasters, especially when these affect several countries simultaneously. In order to deploy crisis relief more swiftly, the Commission will be able to acquire directly, under specific conditions, the necessary resources via the rescEU reserve. 1.263 billion EUR will be allocated to the Mechanism for 2021-2027, supplemented by 2.056 billion EUR from the EU Recovery Instrument (approximately five times more than the previous seven-year budget).