Brussels, 9 November 2012. UfM Secretary General, Fathallah Sijilmassi, participated at the High-level Conference and Steering Committee on Reinforcing Civil Protection Services and Fostering Institutional Co-operation and Dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean Region. The meeting was held on 9 November 2012 in Brussels, and was organized by the European Commission.
“We, at the Union for the Mediterranean, are willing to contribute to the existing efforts with concrete and tangible projects that will progressively bring the Southern Mediterranean countries closer to the European civil protection mechanisms and standards”, said Secretary General Sijilmassi. “The Mediterranean partner countries could be provided with technical expertise and support for the development of prevention, training, mutual assistance and information of the population, enabling their civil protection actors to better anticipate the risks to which the countries are exposed”. The UfM will take care “not to duplicate” what is currently being implemented, as pointed out by Mr. Sijilmassi, “but to rather complement the efforts and work alongside and under the principle of variable geometry”, thus facilitating initial collaboration between a reduced number countries, and effective cooperation on concrete and quickly implementable regional and sub-regional projects.
Following various project proposals that the UfM has received, the Secretariat has mapped out possible areas of project cooperation, such as joint training and exercise of firefighting teams, enhancing their reaction capacities and coordination; standardizing of procedures and equipment in combating large cross-border forest fires; as well as improving overtime, cross-border cooperation via strengthening forensics in civil protection.
The European Commission announced during the conference the launching of a new civil protection programme in the Mediterranean region, building on the achievements of the successful Euro-Mediterranean Regional Programme for the Prevention, Preparedness and Response to natural and man-made disasters (PPRD).