1685412258 origin 1

The EU will double its firefighting capacity ahead of the “busy” summer.

origin 1File – Helicopter in France ©Francois Mori/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

There is little doubt among experts: Europe will experience a difficult summer in 2023.

The European Union will therefore double the capacity of its fire-fighting fleet, with 28 aircraft in total, for a summer that promises to be “intense” after the severe devastation of 2022, announced the commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic.

“This year is already much drier than average. And this drought, combined with the heat we expect, is obviously one of the main causes of forest fires,” said the Slovenian commissioner in an interview with European Newsroom, a group of European press agencies.

After “Europe’s hottest summer on record” in 2022, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Europe’s fleet of waterbombing aircraft and helicopters would be doubled.

Spanish Elections on Climate: Could heatwaves and drought-stricken Doñana wetlands affect voters?

The EU reserve increased from 13 to 28 aircraft, stationed in 10 Member States (Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden).

They are ready to be deployed from June to October in an emergency, to provide aid to a country whose resources are overwhelmed.

These include 10 Canadairs, 14 light amphibious aircraft and four helicopters.

“We have approximately doubled the number of aircraft and capacity in terms of transportable water volume,” said the Commissioner.

In addition, more than 400 firefighters are pre-positioned in Greece, France and Portugal, he added, speaking from the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this center coordinates the delivery of aid to countries affected by a major disaster anywhere in the world.

Life-threatening heat could impact two billion people by 2100. Which countries are most at risk?

This EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been used to send equipment, food and medicines to Ukraine since the start of the large-scale Russian invasion of its country or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (sending of vaccines to third countries , organization of repatriation of European citizens, etc.). More recently, it has helped people affected by devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Established in 2001, the mechanism was activated on average 20 times a year for the first 20 years, and is now activated more than 100 times a year, said Janez Lenarcic, who believes that more financial resources should be allocated in the future .

“Due to climate change, we are witnessing increasingly frequent and intense natural disasters,” he stressed, pointing to the devastating floods of summer 2021 in Germany and Belgium, as well as those currently affecting Italy.