What are modules?
The idea of establishing civil protection modules to strengthen the European response to natural and man-made disasters was launched by Member States in the wake of the December 2004 tsunami in South-Asia. In June 2005, the European Council endorsed the general concept, calling for the establishment of an EU rapid response capability based upon Member States' civil protection modules.
Consequently the Council Decision establishing a Civil Protection Mechanism (Recast) emphasises the importance of developing a European rapid response capability based on the civil protection modules of the Member States. The Council Decision defines the civil protection modules and provides that Member States are required to identify modules within six months of the adoption of the Mechanism recast – meaning until 16 May 2008.
The European Commission and Member States have worked closely together to develop the implementing rules for Civil Protection Modules. The implementing rules provide the technical framework for a total of 13 modules covering pumping and purification of water, aerial fire fighting (planes and helicopters), urban search and rescue (heavy and medium), medical assistance including medical evacuation (advanced medical posts, field hospital, aerial evacuation), emergency shelter, CBRN detection and sampling, and search and rescue in CBRN conditions. Tasks, capacities, main components and deployment times are defined and the provisions give more details about the notions of self-sufficiency and interoperability. The rules also provide for a Technical Assistance Support Team (TAST) that may support MIC assessment and/or coordination teams and may, under specified conditions, be incorporated in specific modules to fulfil support functions.
The modules concept
Modules are task and needs driven pre-defined arrangements of resources. The modules:
Will be composed of mobile/moveable resources from Member States which can deployed abroad;
Will be able to work independently as well as together with other modules and provide assistance inside and/or outside the EU to other EU bodies and international institutions, especially the UN;
Can be made up of resources from one or more Member States of the Community Mechanism on a voluntary basis;
They are self-sufficient, interoperable and can be dispatch at very short notice (generally within 12 hours following a request of assistance;
Will be equipped, trained and operate in accordance with acknowledged international guidelines.