There does not seem to be a shortage of crises within the EU and beyond – from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to floods in Italy, droughts in Spain and forest fires in Northern and Southern Europe. In an interview with the European Newsroom, EU Commissioner Janez Lenarčič emphasised that not only response but prevention and preparedness are on the agenda of the ERCC. 

“We expect a busy, busy summer – this year has already started much drier than average,” the Slovenian politician explained to correspondents from 17 agencies participating in the enr, most of whom were present for the interview in person and online. 

While Lenarčič said that in 2023 no country had asked for forest fire assistance yet, the fire-fighting capacities at EU level had been increased in preparation for the upcoming forest fire season from 13 aircraft in 2022: “We will have ten medium amphibious aeroplanes, 14 light amphibious aeroplanes and four medium and heavy helicopters,” the commissioner explained. The  water caption capacity of the fleet had roughly doubled, he added. 

Over the past two decades, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism had been “activated on average 20 times per year, meaning once or twice per month,” Lenarčič explained. However, there had been a steep increase: Since the beginning of the current Commission’s mandate in 2019, the mechanism had been activated “more than 100 times each year,” with an average of “one to two [activations] each week.”

Here is a selection of images from the interview including a tour of the control room where staff works around the clock:

Based on the interview, the enr produced a joint Key Story which you can find here. Follow the European Newsroom on Social Media and check out the wires from the respective outlets online if you are interested in learning about each country’s specific take on the subject.

Journalists from AFP, AGERPRES, ANSA, ANP, AMNA, APA, Belga, BTA, dpa, EFE, Europa Press, FENA, HINA, STA, TASR, Tanjug and UKRINFORM participated in the interview. 

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