Following the devastating forest fires in the Mediterranean and the Western Balkans over the past weeks, Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič is visiting affected areas in Greece today.
During the visit, he is meeting the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister, Mr. Christos Triantopoulos.
The Commissioner, together with Deputy Minister of Civil Protection, Nikos Chardalias, also visits the rescEU stockpile of medical items hosted by Greece.
In addition, he will meet Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and a group of Governors of Greek Regions.
During his visit to the Attica region near Athens that was heavily affected by forest fires this summer, Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said: “The ongoing wildfire season in Europe has been extremely demanding, having detrimental effects on people and our ecosystems. It particularly affected Greece where we could witness the worst wave of wildfires for more than a decade. I am very proud to see that the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and our rescEU fleet of firefighting aircraft has demonstrated its value yet again – here in Greece but also in other regions across our continent. But there is a clear need for more. We are already working with Member States, including Greece, to scale-up the rescEU capacity of firefighting aircraft in the near future. Building EU reserves and capacities is a long-term endeavour addressing ever more present consequences of climate change in order to help protect our citizens and our nature. However, I wish to recall that prevention and adaptation remain central to long-term management of various disasters.”
With the forest fire season still ongoing in Europe, fires have burned an area to date that is already more than twice as large as the 2008-2020 average of burned area in the EU.
Cyprus, Greece, Italy as well as Albania, Algeria, North Macedonia and Turkey have requested firefighting reinforcements under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. In response, the EU deployed 16 planes, 3 helicopters, some 1,300 first responders and more than 290 vehicles via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Fires in Greece have been particularly fierce this year. To respond to requests for assistance from Greece, firefighting support from 11 EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden) was mobilised rapidly to help national and local firefighting efforts, with teams of ground firefighters and firefighting airplanes, in addition to firefighting planes from the EU’s own rescEU reserve.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism, pooling together Member States’ resources, and the rescEU fleet are a flexible EU tool set up to provide robust support when national capacity is overwhelmed.
In the face of climate change, the increasing frequency and severity of natural hazards, and the transboundary nature of crises, the continuous expansion and reinforcement of our collective response capacity is needed.
The EU’s Copernicus emergency satellite mapping service has complemented firefighting operations with detailed information from space.Publication date25/08/2021