rescEU officially into force, reinforcing emergency support to Member States

On March 21, the European Commission's proposal to strengthen the EU's collective response to natural disasters – rescEU - has entered into force.

Legislation Adopted

According to the Decision, already published in the Journal of the European Union, “there is a need for on-going cooperation at local, regional and cross-border level with a view to establishing common alert systems for rapid intervention prior to the mobilisation of rescEU as well as regular public information campaigns on initial response measures.” The legal text also states that “in order to ensure a response that is both coordinated and rapid, decisions on deployment and demobilisation, and any decision in the event of conflicting requests, should be taken by the Commission in close coordination with the requesting Member State and the Member State owning, renting or leasing the rescEU capacities in question. The Commission and the Member State owning, renting or leasing the rescEU capacities should conclude operational contracts specifying the terms and conditions of deploying rescEU capacities.”

Overall, rescEU will include in particular aerial means to combat forest fires, as well as resources to respond to medical emergencies and to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents. The decision will also strengthen the existing voluntary pool of national capacities. To ensure that Europe is prepared for this year's forest fire season the new legislation will include a transition phase during which Participating States can get funding in exchange of putting their firefighting means at the disposal of the EU.

Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network

The decision includes a number of new provisions that will help Member States boost existing capacities and contribute more to the European Civil Protection Pool such as: co-financing 75% to upgrade their national capacities, co-financing the costs incurred for the deployment of assets, and the implementation of the European Union Civil Protection Network. The Commission will work with Member States to ensure that investments undertaken with Structural Funds are "disaster proof". This means that they will have to take into account the risk assessments that Member States provide.

Following the official adoption of rescEU, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "With rescEU, we have put words into action. We have delivered a practical tool for citizens that can save thousands of lives in the future. rescEU means having a much stronger, pan-European civil protection system. I am very grateful to our Member States in the Council of the EU and the European Parliament for their overwhelming support over the last months. With the next forest fire season just a few months away, our EU Emergency Centre is working around the clock with Member States to make rescEU operational."

Reinforcing EU Cybersecurity

1) Cybersecurity Act almost adopted

The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission reached a political agreement on the Cybersecurity Act, reinforcing the mandate and competences of ENISA, the European Union Agency for Network and Information and Security. Moreover, the political text is set to create a certification framework for products and services.

Following a political agreement reached in December 2018, the European Parliament, on 12 March 2019, approved the new Regulation. It still needs to be approved by the Council and will come into force 20 days after being published.

ENISA’s mandate

The new proposed mandate reinforces ENISA’s role and enables the Agency to better support the Member States in implementing the NIS (security of network and information systems) Directive and to counter particular threats more actively by becoming a centre of expertise on cybersecurity certification. The name of the Agency will be changed to EU Cybersecurity Agency.

Certification Framework for connected devices

The political agreement on the Cybersecurity Act will also create a framework for European Cybersecurity Certificates for products, processes and services that will be valid throughout the EU. It establishes the first EU-wide cybersecurity certification scheme to ensure that certified products, processes and services sold in EU countries meet cybersecurity standards. This is considered as a ground breaking development as it is the first internal market law that takes up the challenge of enhancing the security of connected products, Internet of Things devices as well as critical infrastructure through such certificates. The creation of such a cybersecurity certification framework incorporates security features in the early stages of their technical design and development (security by design). It also enables their users to ascertain the level of security assurance, and ensures that these security features are independently verified.

After the vote on the Cybersecurity Act at the plenary meeting of the European Parliament, rapporteur Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE) said: “This significant success will enable the EU to keep up with security risks in the digital world for years to come. The legislation is a cornerstone for Europe to become a global player in cyber security. Consumers, as well as the industry, need to be able to trust in IT-solutions."

2) Strengthening technical expertise in Cybersecurity at EU level: A pool of EU cybersecurity experts to be set-up

Following the adoption by the European Parliament of the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Centre for European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre and Network of National Coordination Centres, negotiations have started with the Council mid-March in order to adopt these new measures. Together, these structures will help secure the digital single market and increase the EU's autonomy in the area of cybersecurity.

The Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Centre will enhance the coordination of research and innovation in the field of cybersecurity. It will also be the EU's main instrument to pool investment in cybersecurity research, technology and industrial development.

The Cybersecurity Competence Network will consist of National Coordination Centres designated by member states. The national centres will either possess or have access to technological expertise in cybersecurity, for example in areas such as cryptography, intrusion detection or human aspects of security.

Parliament adopts European Solidarity Corps: volunteering abroad reached general consensus

On March 12, the European Parliament adopted its position on the European Solidarity Corps (ESC), a new European Union initiative that seeks to create opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in another EU country. It will now be possible for disadvantaged young people to take part in the programme also in their home country on projects that benefit communities and people around Europe.

Actions covered include activities such as helping children and the elderly, assisting in centres for asylum seekers or helping to prevent natural disasters or rebuild afterwards. By integrating the former separate EU Aid Volunteers initiative into the European Solidarity Corps, a new field of action was created for the ESC, namely the support of humanitarian aid activities in third countries. This leads to additional organizational synergies and cost savings.

The programme will provide opportunities for over 350,000 participants between 2021 and 2027, and builds on the successful pilot launched in 2016. It aims to strengthen the spirit of solidarity among participants and encourage them to continue expressing their solidarity throughout their entire lives.

The overall budget available for the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps is set at €1.3 billion for the period 2021-2027. 86% of the budget for activities will be dedicated to volunteering, the rest for jobs and traineeships and volunteering in humanitarian aid.

The European Solidarity Corps is merging several EU volunteering and solidarity traineeships/jobs schemes into one single programme acting as a "one stop shop" for all solidarity related opportunities for young people.”

As for next steps, the final text must be negotiated and agreed with the Council under the next parliamentary term. 

PSCE is pleased to announce its Spring Conference in Lancaster

After the success from our Conference in Bled, Slovenia, we are delighted to announce the 20th edition of the PSCE Conference. Taking place in the charming city of Lancaster, United Kingdom, this Conference will be held in collaboration with the University of Lancaster, on 4-6 June 2019.

As PSCE pledges to keep up-to-date with current tendencies within the safety and security industry, this year’s Spring Conference will cover topics such as Internet of Things (IoT), Flash Flooding, Cybersecurity and many other subjects which will be announced shortly, along with the publication of the agenda.

Following the fashion of our past events, the Lancaster Conference will provide a selective stage for experts to share experiences and challenges facing the security and safety industry today, but also solutions to address possible concerns.

Overall, our Conference in Lancaster will offer unparalleled intelligence and networking opportunities for professionals across the industry, and also the occasion to showcase products and services that will contribute to better respond to disasters and preparedness within a community. Finally, PSCE will also organise a market place in order to enhance discussions and cooperation between the three PSCE communities – industry, research and users. The goal is to organise discussions around topics and ideas that could potentially lead to business developments or project ideas (funded projects).