Assessing EU’s Crisis Response Capacity

21 October 2016

For the first time, the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) and 22 countries participating in the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) will join forces with other European and UN institutions to assess their joint crisis response capabilities at the national, European and international level.

This will be done within the European Disaster Response Exercise (EDREX), which has received funding from the European Commission. CRISMART is supporting the Swedish Civil Contingencies (MSB) in its role as the lead facilitator in the design and execution of EDREX.

"This project is truly unique. It is the first time a multi-sectoral exercise is being carried out at the European level that connects the operational and political level of expertise, including 22 UCPM-participating countries, the EU Commission, Council Secretariat and several United Nations agencies and organizations," says Simon Hollis, assistant professor at CRISMART. Since the ERCC is the EU's crisis management centre for coordinating resources from the UCPM-participating states during crisis situations, it is important to identify and understand what the various stakeholders are able and willing to contribute as well as the challenges of collaborating. EDREX creates a platform for networking and strives to facilitate meaningful discussions on disaster management and humanitarian assistance.

The first of two exercises

EDREX consists of two exercises: a discussion-based exercise and a command post exercise (a type of simulation exercise). In early October, the discussion-based exercise was carried out. The scenario involved a powerful earthquake, causing serious repercussions, in a fictitious country bordering the EU. This exercise aimed to assess three specific crisis response capabilities at the national, European and international level: namely, situation awareness, decision making and crisis communication. The exercise began with a high-level panel discussion on these specific capabilities and was moderated by Prof. Magnus Ekengren from the Swedish Defence University. In addition, there were useful and engaging discussions on the procedures and functions of the UCPM's Voluntary Pool, the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) arrangements, and the possible invocation of the Solidarity Clause.

The findings from these discussions and the first exercise are currently being evaluated and will be fed into the design of the command post exercise scheduled for March next year. By assessing and evaluating the EU's overall crisis management capability, EDREX will help to increase knowledge and understanding for cross-sectorial crisis response coordination both nationally and internationally.

Photo of the ERCC staff discussing which experts should be sent to a flooded area during the discussion-based exercise. Photo provided by courtesy of Ezequiel Scagnetti (ECHO, EU).

Simon Hollis
Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership, CRISMART

simon.hollis [at] fhs.se