27th Sep 2023

France proposes EU reaction force for natural disasters

  • Pakistan flood refugees: France wants the EU to create a common reaction force to help out during natural disasters (Photo: IOM Pakistan Flood Response)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for the EU to set up a joint rapid reaction force to handle natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires and floods.

In a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso published on Sunday (15 August), Mr Sarkozy addressed the issue of the EU's ability to react under its own name in connection to the recent floods in Pakistan.

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"It seems essential, for obvious political and humanitarian reasons, that Europe shows its solidarity with the Pakistani people visibly. The interest of Europe is also to ensure the development and stability of this country," he wrote.

Following the earthquake in Haiti and wildfires in Russia, says the letter, the EU "must take the necessary measures and build a real EU reaction force ... that draws on the resources of the member states."

France is to draw up proposals for the force in the near future, it adds.

Last week French junior minister for EU affairs, Pierre Lellouche, said the EU should create a European emergency force representing the "real means of mutual aid in case of emergency."

Paris announced Sunday that a plane with 60 tonnes of humanitarian aid will be sent to Pakistan, with Mr Sarkozy saying France is prepared to use its Nato military forces to help transport the aid.

France has already allocated €1 million to Pakistan since the start of the floods, which are estimated to have affected 20 million people.

Last Wednesday (11 August), the commission said it would provide Pakistan with €10 million in immediate emergency aid, in addition to €30 million allocated in July.

EU foreign ministers are to also discuss a long term aid plan for Pakistan at an informal meeting in September.

With wildfire smog returning to Moscow over the weekend, Russia itself indicated it would be interested in joining a multilateral crisis response force.

"The United States and the EU have now come to the same conclusion. I think we will come to this, and such capabilities will have to be established," he told the Ria Novosti news agency.

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