After Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, the Cyprus Civil Defence operates in a new environment. It participates in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which promotes cooperation between Member-States in the field of civil protection and supports efforts at a national, regional and local level.
Its activities are expanded by actively participating in relevant European and international organizations.
It has an important role to play due to its participation in the EU Council Working Group meetings, where decision-making by the EU institutions is prepared.
It participates in training programmes of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and it co-organises the Assessment Mission Course.
The Cyprus Civil Defence’s leadership and members participate in international conferences and promote international cooperation.
Cyprus Civil Defence and the European Union
The European Union is constantly developing its policy on humanitarian assistance and civil protection.
In 1992, the Humanitarian Aid Office was founded by the then European Commission, for the coordination of political solidarity to people in need all over the world.
In 2004 the service continued its work as the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid.
In 2010, the EU included civil protection in its field of responsibilities, aiming towards better coordination and more effective disaster response, both inside and outside its borders.
Today, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) has its headquarters in Brussels. As of November 2014, it operated, for a five-year period under the responsibility of the Cypriot commissioner Mr. Christos Stylianides.
Its work is not only limited to the confrontation of the immediate consequences of a disaster. It covers many more stages: prevention, preparation, intervention, lessons learnt and rehabilitation.
This leads to a wide range of activities aiming at:
- reducing the risk of disasters, e.g. thanks to strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change
- improving preparedness, e.g. by developing means such as early warning systems,
- Ensuring a smooth transition after the completion of emergency operations
- Reinforcing the overall shielding of the population i.e. by connecting the provision of emergency aid with “tools” of long-term recovery and development.
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection is assisted by the Civil Protection Committee which is comprised of representatives of EU Member States, candidate countries and representatives from the European Economic Area.
The Cyprus Civil Defence participates with a representative at the Civil Protection Committee and also at other subcommittees, with the purpose of supporting its work.
The Cyprus Civil Defence Operations Control Center runs 24/7, which creates great potential for the Republic of Cyprus, and is staffed by permanent personnel.
One of them is the connection to the European Union’s ERCC (Emergency Response Coordination Center), which uses the CECIS (Common Emergency Communication and Information System) system, which includes all Member States, as well as states that have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Directorate for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.
Council of Europe
The Cyprus Civil Defence participates in the Open Partial European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA)] for the treatment of natural and technological disasters, under the Council of Europe, both by representation in Permanent Correspondents’ meetings, as well as the operation of the BeSafeNet science center.