Today Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes a full member of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism – the European solidarity framework that helps countries overwhelmed by a disaster. It comes as Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, is in Sarajevo to officially sign an agreement on behalf of the European Union to grant the country official membership of the Mechanism.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was already benefitting from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism as a receiving country, but now by being a full member they will also be able to actively dispatch assistance via the Mechanism wherever it is needed. 

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “Today we are taking an important step towards stronger European crisis response – Bosnia and Herzegovina is joining the EU Civil Protection Mechanism as a fully participating member. This comes at the time when natural hazards are on the rise in Europe, and elsewhere in the world. This year we endured one of the toughest summers with forest fires blazing across Europe. We saw once again that EU disaster response is the strongest when we act together. Fully fledged participation in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is a recognition of the significant progress Bosnia and Herzegovina has made over the years in building a resilient civil protection system. I am confident that soon other countries in need will reap the benefits of this accession.”

During his visit, the Commissioner will meet with the Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bisera Turković as well as Minister for Security, Selmo Cikotić.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism aims to strengthen cooperation between the 27 EU countries and seven participating States (Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey, and most recently Bosnia and Herzegovina) on civil protection to improve prevention, preparedness, and response to disasters.

Bosnia and Herzegovina becoming a full member of the Mechanism will enhance Europe’s regional emergency preparedness and rescue capacity.

Background

When an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country in Europe and beyond, it can request assistance through the Mechanism. The European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the disaster response worldwide. Since its inception in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has responded to almost 600 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU.

A joint approach further helps pool expertise and capacities of first responders, avoids duplication of relief efforts, and ensures that assistance meets the needs of those affected. Pooling together civil protection capacities and capabilities allows for a stronger and more coherent collective response.

The Mechanism also helps coordinate disaster preparedness and prevention activities of national authorities and contributes to the exchange of best practices. This facilitates the continuous development of higher common standards enabling teams to understand different approaches better and work interchangeably when a disaster strikes.