To prepare for the risk of forest fires during the upcoming summer, the European Commission launched, on 21 May, the first fleet of firefighting aircraft under the new rescEU system to tackle natural disasters. So far, seven firefighting airplanes and six helicopters will be part of the rescEU fleet during an initial transition period, and the Commission is working together with the participating countries to add extra assets in the coming weeks.
European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “rescEU is a concrete response, a European response, to help our many citizens who face the threat of natural disasters. We were all shocked, as Europeans, when many people lost their lives in the last years due to forest fires from Portugal to Greece. European solidarity must be about protecting citizens and helping each other in difficult times. rescEU offers practical solutions and puts European solidarity firmly into action.”
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides added: “Forest fires do not wait. To save lives and protect citizens, the EU and its Member States joined forces and made rescEU a reality. With rescEU, we have an extra ‘safety net’ at times of crisis. I am very proud to see our European forest fire fighting fleet becoming a reality this summer. I would like to thank each and every Participating State that has contributed to this fleet – preparing us in the best way possible for this year’s fire season.”
Already five EU Member States, which have been frequently affected by forest fires in recent years, have put their airplanes and helicopters at the disposal of the 2019 rescEU transition fleet. The initial assets are: two aircraft from Croatia, one aircraft from France, two aircraft from Italy, two aircraft from Spain and six helicopters from Sweden.