EU boosts readiness to combat 2024 wildfire season

Human Rights

As Europe is preparing for the approaching wildfire season, the EU is taking significant steps to bolster firefighting efforts and safeguard communities, by pre-positioning firefighters and assembling a fleet of firefighting aircraft. 

First, 556 firefighters from 12 countries will be strategically prepositioned across key locations in Europe this summer, such as France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, ready to help local fire brigades. 

This proactive measure enhances Europe’s readiness to combat wildfires and mitigate their devastating impact on lives, homes, and the environment, and underscores the robustness of EU solidarity in addressing such crises. 

For the summer of 2024, the rescEU and European Civil Protection Pool aerial capacities now include 28 airplanes and 4 helicopters stationed in 10 Member States, which will be on hand this year to support firefighters across the continent. This consists of:

  • 4 medium amphibious airplanes, 2 light planes and 1 helicopter from Greece
  • 2 medium amphibious airplanes from Croatia
  • 2 medium amphibious airplanes and 2 light planes from Italy
  • 2 medium amphibious airplanes from Spain
  • 4 medium amphibious airplanes and 1 helicopter from France
  • 4 light planes from Sweden
  • 2 light planes from Portugal
  • 2 helicopters from Czechia
  • 2 light planes from Cyprus
  • 2 light planes from Germany

The Commission has also allocated a total of €600 million to facilitate the acquisition of 12 new firefighting planes in the future, which will be distributed among 6 EU Member States. In addition, several helicopters will also be financed in the future by the EU to reinforce the EU aerial firefighting fleet.

The prepositioning of firefighters and the acquisition of additional firefighting aircraft underscore the EU’s commitment to bolstering its capacity to respond effectively to wildfires, particularly during the upcoming summer months.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “As we mark the fifth anniversary of rescEU, it is imperative that we continue strengthening our collective resilience against natural disasters. The prepositioning of firefighters and the expansion of our aerial firefighting fleet are crucial steps in this endeavour.”


The EU ensures a coordinated approach to preventing, preparing and responding to wildfires when those overwhelm national response capacities. When the scale of a wildfire overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism

Once activated, the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre coordinates and finances assistance made available by EU Member States and the ten UCPM- Participating States (Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Türkiye, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Moldova and Ukraine) through spontaneous offers.

In addition, the EU has created the European Civil Protection Pool to have a critical number of readily available civil protection capacities allowing for a stronger and coherent collective response. The ECPP aims to enable a faster, better-coordinated, and more effective European response to human-induced disasters and natural hazards. It brings together resources from 27 Member States and participating states, ready for deployment to a disaster zone at short notice.

Should the emergency require additional, life-saving assistance, the rescEU firefighting reserve steps in to provide additional capacities to confront disasters in Europe. It includes a fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters, medical evacuation planes, and a stockpile of medical items and field hospitals that can respond to health emergencies. RescEU works by giving Member States grants to buy capacities, and the European Commission has the final call to deploy them.

The Emergency Response Coordination Centre also monitors the evolution of wildfires with the support of early warning systems such as the European Forest Fire Information System, while the EU’s Copernicus emergency satellite mapping service complements operations with detailed information from space. 

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