Ready to help Japan (updated 15 March)
© Fotolia, Ruslan Olinchuk
At the first news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami on 11 March, the European Council expressed its condolences to and support for the affected people and governments. The leaders asked the High Representative and the Commission to mobilise all appropriate assistance. In addition, President Van Rompuy together with Commission President Barroso issued a message of solidarity on behalf of the European Union.
The European Commission immediately (11 March) activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism. The Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response. 31 states participate in its operations (27 EU member states plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).
These countries pool their resources to make them available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. So far 20 states have offered personnel and equipment through this mechanism.
Offers of assistance in kind comprise water purification units, field hospitals, advanced medical posts, Emergency Temporary Shelters (ETS). The first response teams that are ready for departure include medical and logistic experts, search and rescue and decontamination experts.
The Commission Civil Protection Mechanism sent a civil liaison officer to Japan on 13 March to reinforce the EU Delegation in Tokyo and prepare for possible deployment of the team.
Furthermore, two teams of European civil protection experts, which are currently in Indonesia, stand ready for deployment. Commission's humanitarian and civil protection service (ECHO) follows the situation on a 24/7 basis through its monitoring and information centre and its humanitarian offices in Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila.
The Japanese Mission to the EU in Brussels asks for the dispatch of any additional personnel, teams and equipment to be put on hold for the time being due to the difficulty of gaining access to the affected areas.
EU member states' consular offices in Japan are operating, and citizens are invited to contact their embassies.
Nuclear safety concerns
The Commission is in regular contact on the situation with Japanese sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency and established emergency networks in Europe.
Commissioner Oettinger has called for a coordination meeting, which will take place on 15 March in Brussels, with EU member states, all 27 nuclear safety authorities and all operators and vendors of nuclear power plants in the EU to assess the situation in Japan as well as the EU's state of preparedness in the case of similar accidents. The aim is to get first- hand information about contingency plans and safety requirements in place.
Statement of the European Council (pdf)
More on the EU response to the disaster in Japan