Information

INFORMATION
 ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EUROPEAN  VOLUNTARY CIVIL PROTECTION FORUM (EVCPF) 

Experiences of recent years show that the number and intensity of disasters keeps growing, and, as a consequence, threaten our environment and population ever more seriously. In addition to economic losses, human casualties caused by disasters are also ever more significant.
                 
A very significant task of the governmental civil protection and disaster protection organisations is to prepare for and manage emergencies, and to liquidate the consequences of disasters. The UN and the European Union regard the information of the population and the youth and its preparation for protection against the effects of disasters as its significant task, and attributes decisive roles on these issues to voluntary civil protection organisations cooperating with governmental organisations.

In several countries of the EU non-governmental organisations are operating which, in collaboration with governmental organisations, play an important role in the field of the preparation and information of the population and the youth and of disaster management, too.  At the same time, however, no international organisation has been established yet which could direct, that is, help exchange of experiences and international cooperation of these organisations.

The Hungarian Civil Protection Association has planned to establish such an organisation under the name "European Voluntary Civil Protection Forum  of the Voluntary Organisations involved in Civil Protection"(short name: European Voluntary Civil Protection Forum – EVCPF). At the end of January 2010 Committee was set up with the participation of Austrian, Croatian, Slovak and Hungarian organisations, and the Swedish organisation joined the ECF in June. As a result of its one-year activity the Organisation Committee has established the Forum, the Statutory Conference of which was held between 28-29 April 2011 in Budapest.

The representatives of 17 civilian organisations of 12 European countries participated in the Conference. The participating organisations have become simultaneously the member organisations of the established Forum. During the organisation of the Conference received significant support from the following Hungarian governmental organisation: National Directorate General for Disaster Management, and its head:  Lieut.-Gen. Dr. György Bakondi, Director General. The representatives of the governmental organisations of nine European countries: Austrian, Croatian, Czech, Finnish, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Slovak and Slovenian governmental organisations, also participated in the Conference as observers.

The Community Civil Protection Mechanism places great emphasis on cooperation with countries outside the EU area. So enlargement and the European integration of the Western-Balkan States was one of the important tasks of the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian trio fulfilling the EU Presidency. In the framework of the establishment of the Forum there was a possibility, too, to establish the "Regional Partnership Cooperation" (RPC) with the voluntary civil protection organisations of the Western-Balkan States.  Connectinged to this, accepting the proposal of the Portuguese organisation, the Conference has supported the establishment of other Regional cooperations, since these, bringing together the activity of voluntary civil protection organisations of countries of similar vulnerability, can facilitate the overall activity of the Forum.  In this way the establishment of the "Mediterranean Partnership Cooperation" can foster the cooperation of the Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and Greek organisations  and the Nordic Countries Cooperation can foster the cooperation of Swedish, Danish and Finnish organisations.

The establishment of the Forum and the Regional partnerships enables us to facilitate the establishment of voluntary civil protection organisations in countries where no such organisations yet exist; through this, to contribute to the implementation of the strategic decisions of the EU related to disasters.

In recent years several trials have been made for the harmonisation of the activity of voluntary civil protection organisations and for establishment of cooperation.

The Workshop "Voluntary Activities towards improved Civil Preparedness in Europe" (VACPE) was held between 13-15 June 2008. in Roskilde, Denmark. On 26-27 February 2009. the VACPE was part of the Informed Prepared Together conference in York, United Kingdom, while on 15. November the European Meeting of Civil Defense and Emergency Volunteers was held in Bilbao, Spain,  with the support of the Basque Government.

Despite all this, it has become ever clearer that the issue of international cooperation and organised exchange of experiences of the European voluntary civil protection cannot be solved through specific/individual conferences. That is why, in the interest of the establishment of the harmonisation and cooperation of voluntary civil protection organizations, the ECF (now EVCPF)and the Regional Partnership Cooperation at the Statutory Conference of April were established in the year of the Year of European Voluntarism. 

In the meantime work has begun in the European Union, which aims to establish the framework for the participation of volunteers in the EU civil protection operations, in harmony with the Lisbon Treaty. The European Commission  held an open consultation in September 2010 in Brussels, with the involvement of all those concerned in the issue - then  on 26. November 2010 -it issued  an Announcement under the title preliminary comments on the "European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps" (EVHAC) (17065/10). In the sense of the Announcement the Commission has envisaged to submit a legislation proposal on EVHAC in 2012.

The Coordination Council directs the activity of the EVCPF, led by the President and the Secretary General (Hungary).  Members of the Coordination Council are the representatives of the Austrian, Croatian, the Slovak, Swedish and the British member organisations.  The Conference approved further work on the draft Statutes and Standing Order (now termed Terms of Reference and Memorandum of Understanding), which will be finalised at the Conference in Budapest in October 2012.

Furthermore, it approved the Final Declaration in which the participating member organisations declared, by unanimous decision, the establishment of the European Voluntary Civil Protection Forum, and their intention to operate the Regional Partnership Cooperation in this framework. 

The Final Declaration has expressed its determination, that, through international cooperation and organised exchange of experiences of the civilian organisations, the EVCPF and the Regional Partnership Cooperation contribute efficiently to the implementation of civil and disaster protection tasks  and to the fulfilment of the aim set by the EU, according to which the framework for participation of volunteers be established in the EU civil protection operations, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty.

The Final Declaration has referred to the expectation of the Member Organisations that the European Union will render continuous and effective support for the successful and efficient activity of the EVCPF.

The basic aim of the EVCPF is to organise the exchange of experiences related to the implementation of voluntary civil protection tasks connecting to the preparation for and management of disasters and to the reduction of the consequences.

Principal aims are:

  • facilitation of the increase of the efficiency of the fulfilment of population protection tasks, in cooperation with governmental civil protection organisations,
  • facilitation of the development of the exchange of experiences in the field of the education and advancement of the civil protection knowledge of the youth,
  • furtherance of the exchange of international experiences in relation to the operational activity of the organisations in disaster situations,
  • development of cooperation with the competent agencies of the European Union,
  • promotion of the implementation of close cooperation with governmental civil protection organs,
  • cooperation and exchange of experiences in the field of civil protection scientific activity,
  • dissemination of experiences of the non-governmental civil protection organisations of the Western-Balkan States,
  • facilitation of the establishment of voluntary organizations in countries where, at present, no such organisations exist.