From the summer of 2023, rescEU will receive €170 million from the EU budget to expand their fleet and ground teams, to assist with increasing numbers of forest fires in the EU states.
The fleet would then include 22 planes, four helicopters and more prepositioned ground teams. By 2025, further expansion will take place through an accelerated procurement of airplanes and helicopters.
This investment is to reflect the increasing scope, frequency and intensity of forest fires throughout Europe. By 1 October, this year’s data showed a 30 per cent increase in the burnt area over the previous worst year recorded (2017), and a more than 170 per cent increase over the average burnt area since EU-level recording started in 2006.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: "Due to climate change, the number of regions affected by wildfires is increasing, going beyond the traditionally affected Mediterranean countries. The last summers have clearly shown that more firefighting assets are needed at EU-level. By building up our fleet of aerial means and ground forces, the EU will be able to ensure a prompt, flexible response, including in situations where fires are burning in multiple Member States at the same time.”
The Emergency Response Coordination Centre received 11 requests for assistance with forest fires this season. The EU deployed 33 planes and eight helicopters via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism across Europe, joined by over 350 firefighters on the ground.
Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn, said: “While the record-breaking forest fires this summer may have been overshadowed by other crises, today's proposal to reinforce rescEU shows that the EU budget will continue to support those in need. European solidarity across EU Member States remains strong and we are ready to support this solidarity with financial means.”