May 27. 2024. 8:39

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Croatia, France and Poland join EU’s strategic reserves for chemical, biological and radiological emergencies


The reserves will include antidotes, antibiotics, vaccines, sedatives, and prophylactic treatments and specific CBRN response equipment, such as detectors and decontamination supplies and personal protective equipment (e.g., gas masks and protection suits).

The establishment of the four stockpiles represent a cross-sectoral cooperation between the EU’s health and civil protection authorities. Once established, member states will be able to request the mobilisation of relevant stock via the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC).

In parallel, the Commission has just launched an additional call for proposals for a total value of €636m focusing this time on the response to pathogens with pandemic potential, CBRN threats and antimicrobial resistance.

Background

People may be exposed to CBRN agents as a result of unintentional disasters (e.g. a chemical plant leak, nuclear power plant incidents, the spread of an infectious disease) or intentional incidents (e.g. a terrorist attack). Moreover, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine further stressed the need for strategic stockpiles of accessible critical medical countermeasures and CBRN response equipment to protect EU citizens, in particular in case of CBRN attacks or accidents.

Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, CBRN in-kind assistance was mobilised from 26 Member States and from existing rescEU strategic reserves. This included chemical detectors, radiometric instruments, decontamination, and personal protective equipment in addition to therapeutics such as potassium iodide tablets and antidotes.

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However, the pandemic highlighted the lack of reserve capacities of essential medical countermeasures, such as PPE. Emerging threats, such as the coronavirus, but also CBRN incidents may overwhelm the ability of EU Member States to help each other,especially when several European countries face the same type of disaster simultaneously.

The stockpiles are overseen by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).

HERA is a key pillar of the European Health Union and a fundamental asset to strengthen the EU’s health emergency response and preparedness. A core goal of HERA is to ensure the development, manufacturing, procurement, and equitable distribution of key medical countermeasures to address any possible gap in its availability and accessibility.

In July 2022, HERA presented a priority list of top-three health threats that require coordination of measures at EU level in the context of medical countermeasures. These three threats which have the potential of spreading across Member States are: (1) pathogens with high pandemic potential, (2) chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, and (3) threats resulting from antimicrobial resistance. The present establishment of strategic reserves is a direct response to the second threat identified. rescEU provides an extra layer of protection and ensures a faster and more comprehensive response to disasters. rescEU reserves are 100% EU-financed and the EU Commission maintains, in close cooperation with the countries hosting the reserves, control of their operation. In an emergency, rescEU strategic reserves provide assistance primarily to EU member states and Participating States of the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

More information

State of Health Preparedness Report

Factsheet State of Health Preparedness Report and HERA Work Plan

HERA website

rescEU factsheet

EU Civil Protection Mechanism factsheet

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