European disaster response center celebrates one year anniversary

The European Commission celebrated on Thursday the first anniversary of the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC).

The ERCC was created to provide a more swift and predictable disaster response capacity. It was also intended to focus on prevention and preparedness for disasters inside Europe and around the world.

The ERCC was called upon to provide assistance 35 times in the last year, including to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan and to Syria to address the country's ongoing humanitarian crisis. It also provided a coordinated response to large-scale forest fires in Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and satellite surveillance to national authorities during record floods in Central Europe.

The center operates 24 hours a day and is intended to handle three simultaneous disasters at a time. It provides risk monitoring and analysis via satellite satellite imagery and on-the-ground experts.

The ERCC was made possible by a 2013 revision to the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism legislation that allowed for coordinated responses to natural and man-made disasters. That legislation covers risk assessment, planning and preparedness and more coordinated response actions. The ERCC now co-finances and supports training, simulation and preparedness activities for disaster response.