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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Prevention of natural or man-made disasters in the European Union

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Prevention of natural or man-made disasters in the European Union



Communication (COM(2009) 82 final) — Community approach on the prevention of natural and man made disasters


  • It defines the European Union (EU) approach to better anticipate and manage natural or man-made disasters. In this regard, it proposes a set of measures to be implemented at EU level.
  • It prepared the ground for a stronger focus on prevention in the revised EU civil protection legislation (Decision No 1313/2013/EU on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism) which sets out a basis for implementing a wide-ranging disaster risk-management policy, and promotes a complete approach for all natural and man-made risks, from disaster prevention and preparedness through to response.


Loss of life as well as economic and environmental damage are the most serious impacts of natural and man-made disasters that appear to be on the increase both in terms of number and severity. Increasing vulnerability to such disasters is caused in particular by the effects of climate change and by urban and industrial development.

The strategy proposed by the European Commission is part of a set of instruments with both an external and an internal dimension. It does not cover emergencies related to conflicts or acts of terrorism.

Main measures

This 2009 strategy is based on 3 main themes:

  • developing existing knowledge to improve the effectiveness of prevention policies, this includes
    • collecting comparable information on disaster factors;
    • best practices in risk-management procedures (land-use planning, emergency plans, etc.); and
    • the mapping of EU risk areas;
  • extending cooperation of those involved in disaster management through a specialist network to improve the coordination of EU, national and regional measures and improving citizens’ information on the EU emergency number ‘112’;
  • using existing legislative and financial instruments for preventive action, for example in the areas of rural development, civil protection, environmental protection, research, and information and communication technologies.

A stronger focus on prevention in the civil protection legislation

In December 2013, the Council and the European Parliament adopted the decision on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism. Applicable since 1 January 2014, this decision introduces inter alia a strong focus on disaster prevention, with rules relating to risk assessment and risk-management capability assessment, and sets out an ambitious set of initiatives to be implemented by the Commission (including risk assessment, risk-management capability and voluntary peer review).


For more information, see:


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A Community approach on the prevention of natural and man made disasters (COM(2009) 82 final, 23.2.2009)


Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, pp. 924–947)

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council — Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance (COM(2010) 600 final, 26.10.2010)

last update 17.01.2017