A new 595-million-euro European Investment Bank (EIB) loan will transform civil protection across Greece to better tackle Covid-19 and reduce loss of life through natural disasters.
Agreed on Friday between EIB and the Greek government, the loan, which offers long-term financing and shared technical best-practice, will help to transform disaster prevention and response to pandemics and natural disasters including floods, forest fires and earthquakes in all 13 Greek regions.
Largest ever support for civil protection in Europe
The new initiative, representing the largest ever targeted support for civil protection in Europe backed by the EIB, will provide mobile field hospitals, firefighting and medical evacuation aircraft, helicopters, drones and rescue equipment key to reduce loss of lives following natural disasters like fires, earthquakes and floods.
“Over recent months technical and financial experts from Greece and the European Investment Bank have outlined projects across Greece where disaster preparedness can be improved through unlocking new investment,” said Christian Kettel Thomsen, EIB Vice President responsible for Greece.
The programme, to be implemented over the next 5 years, is expected to completely restructure civil protection in Greece enabling a quicker response, strengthened local preparedness and coordination and better supply of personnel and equipment.
“Lessons learnt during the Covid-19 pandemic and best practice identified by this scheme will help to save lives in Greece and strengthen future best practice of civil protection across Europe,” he said.
According to Greek Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias, fires and floods that have taken a heavy toll in recent years and the impact of Covid-19 have shown how disaster prevention, rapid response and availability of specialist equipment is essential.
“This new 595-million-euro long-term financing will accelerate investment to improve environmental protection, disaster management and response to public health emergencies and will allow an even better preparedness of the Civil Protection mechanism,” he said.
Strengthening civil protection across Greece
The new investment includes provision of new equipment for use by the Hellenic Fire Service in the event of natural disasters, including helicopters and aircraft to fight wildfires and evacuate medical emergencies.
Local disaster prevention, preparedness and response will be transformed by the creation of 13 regional civil protection teams and new communications networks and IT systems for use across the country.
Ensuring best practice in disaster prevention
Experts from the Greek government and the European Investment Bank will work together during implementation of the new initiative to use best-practice from across Europe and to further strengthen future disaster prevention investment across Europe.
Improving civil protection cooperation in Europe
The new investment will improve European coordination of civil protection and disaster response. New specialist equipment can be used to help other countries in times of need under the new European Union RescEU civil protection mechanism.
This enables firefighting planes and helicopters, medical evacuation planes, as well as a stockpile of medical equipment and field hospitals from EU member states to be used to respond to health emergencies.
“The protection of human life from natural disasters and pandemics is a constant top priority for Greece and has become even more crucial after last year’s challenges due to severe weather phenomena and Covid-19 pandemic,” said Christos Staikouras, Minister of Finance of the Hellenic Republic and Governor of the European Investment Bank.
The minister added that the new agreement with the EIB will transform civil protection across Greece and help achieve the country’s goals.