Europe needs a humanitarian rapid reaction force

The European Union has to improve its capabilities to react to natural disasters. Therefore the European Security Foundation supports President van Rompuys proposal to form a civilian rapid reaction force to deal with future emergencies like the terrible disaster in Haiti. “To improve this vital help the European Union has to work on its deficits in air transport and telecommunications,” said Secretary General of the European Security Foundation, Karl von Wogau.

European Union reactions to Haiti´s earthquake were swift since the EU Civil Protection Assessment and Coordination Team is on site from 14 January on. The support by Member States of the EU started the day after the disaster. Meanwhile 22 EU-Countries give emergency support to Haiti.

But as the scale of the disaster in Haiti unfolds, it becomes clear that coordination between the Member States should be improved. To save human lives, it is necessary to be fully present immediately after the disaster. Therefore the Union should dispose of the air transport capability which is necessary for the logistics of medical and technical aid as well as food. It is therefore urgent to speed up the project of a European Air Transport Fleet.

Moreover, it would be an important improvement if all the participants in those emergency missions could keep contact with a common telecommunication standard as it is proposed by an ongoing research project of the European Union (Software Defined Radio - SDR).