Summary: On December 17, the European Commission approved proposals for two Council Decisions in the fields of civil protection and accidental marine pollution. The measures cover the period 2000-2004 and are designed to ensure the continuation and reinforcement of actions implemented by the Commission since 1978 in the field of Accidental Marine Pollution, and since 1985 in the field of Civil Protection.

Measures in the field of civil protection are provided for in the EC Treaty (Article 3, point t). They are necessary given the fact that the European Union suffers from major natural disasters, including floods, in the majority of Member States, as well as earthquakes, landslides and forest fires in Southern Europe. Environmental emergencies are also important (for example pollution threat in the Do[currency]ana natural park in Spain). Since 1985, and on the basis of the subsidiarity principle, the EU set up operational mechanisms for the reinforcement of the cooperation of the EU's civil protection services (including mutual assistance principles, operational manual, round the clock operational structure, exchange of experts, etc.). In 1998, following the adoption by the Council of a two-year Action Programme in the field of Civil Protection (1998-99) the Commission, in close cooperation and co-financing with civil protection authorities in the Member States launched several major projects. They all aim at the establishment of best practices, lessons learnt, common rules and guidelines as well as networking of experts in the respective fields. They cover the fields of crisis management, information of the public, emergency medicine, and disaster prevention. The new Action Programme that is proposed in the field of Civil Protection, will...

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