Anger in Greece as Authorities Choose Not to Participate in Common EU Firefighting Force

Greek media revealed on Wednesday that Greece is notably absent from the newly-established ”RescEU” initiative, a common European Union fleet dedicated to firefighting.

The ”RescEU” project aims to assist the national authorities in any EU member state when natural disasters, such as wildfires, strike.

Less than one year after the Mati disaster, the deadliest wildfire in Greek history and one of the worst in the entire world, Athens decided not to participate in this new EU force which has pledged to assist member states when they most need it.

The reasons for Greece’s non-participation are still unknown.

Croatia, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden were the first EU member states to join the new mechanism, offering part of their own firefighting fleets to the group.

The system involves member states offering part of their national fleet to the ”rescEU,” meaning that they would have to assist national authorities in any EU member state which asks for European help in case of a wildfire.

Brussels will cover 75 percent of the operational costs of this new fleet, with national authorities paying for the remaining 25 percent.

It is obvious to observers that — at a very low cost — Greece could not only have helped other states when they need it, but it could have substantial and much-needed European assistance when disaster strikes at home.

Up until now, the European Union has always operated on a voluntary-based assistance system.

When national authorities ask for help, Brussels mediates in order to find volunteer nations which have the ability to assist the nation in need.

The new ”RescEU” plan, which will operate in a transitional mode this year, aims to make the voluntary-based system obligatory and permanent.

Speaking on the new system, President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “RescEU is a concrete response, a European response, to help our many citizens who face the threat of natural disasters.”

Junker also noted that ”we were all shocked, as Europeans, when many people lost their lives in the last years due to forest fires from Portugal to Greece. European solidarity must be about protecting citizens and helping each other in difficult times. ‘RescEU’ offers practical solutions and puts European solidarity firmly into action.”


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