VOICE shares main concerns for Civil Protection legislation with DG ECHO
Given that VOICE members are in the frontline of the response to natural disasters and complex emergencies, VOICE has closely monitored the developments in strengthening the EU disaster response in general, and the process towards the Civil Protection Regulation in particular.
If delivered according to the provisions of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, civil protection and humanitarian aid each have comparative advantages in disaster response. The drafting of the Civil Protection Regulation provides an excellent opportunity to establish clear roles and mandates for EU civil protection.
According to VOICE, the following points should be taken into account in the Draft Regulation:
1. As the Regulation sets out the framework for civil protection work both inside and outside the EU, we believe that the different realities in these contexts have to be acknowledged and that the Regulation should clearly distinguish between the two. In disaster contexts outside the EU, civil protection is likely to have a different mandate than inside the EU, given that non-EU member states are the ones affected and thus have the lead. Moreover, given the overall leading role of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in international disaster response, coordination with UNOCHA in disasters outside the EU is crucial. In addition, for natural disasters, coordination should also be ensured with the UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination).
2. While EU civil protection can be a valuable component of disaster response also outside the EU, when natural disasters strike, the picture in complex emergency contexts is substantially more difficult. The Regulation should clearly distinguish between these two contexts. In conflict situations, the governmental nature of civil protection may pose challenges, as the humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality are crucial for the acceptance of humanitarian actors, including NGOs, in those areas. Therefore, adherence to the International Oslo and MCDA guidelines is essential- as the European institutions also committed to in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.
3. The use of civil protection assets has to be based on humanitarian needs assessments, as stated in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid. Needs-based decision is important to ensure the use of civil protection assets for no other than purely humanitarian purposes.
Furthermore, the Regulation provides an excellent opportunity to clarify and streamline the use of terminology, as some wording has different meanings in humanitarian and civil protection jargon (e.g. ‘man-made disasters’ or ‘integrated approach’).