On Thursday 28th April, the Network of directors of European crisis centres gathered at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. 24 countries were represented to discuss the challenges of national and international crisis management. Annelies Verlinden, Belgian Minister of the Interior, and Deanne Criswell, Administrator of the United States’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), were also present.
In September last year, during the previous meeting of the Network, 20 European countries signed a cooperation protocol to meet the challenges of current and future national and international crises. At the meeting on Thursday 28th April, 5 additional national crisis centres (Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Latvia) strengthened cooperation with their European counterparts by also signing the protocol.
Bart Raeymaekers, Director General of the Belgian National Crisis Centre (NCCN): "It is a great honour for the NCCN to welcome all these representatives of national crisis centres to this meeting. Our exchanges and discussions allow us to learn from each other and will only benefit crisis management at the European level. Increasing the resilience of both national authorities and their citizens is an extremely important task, especially in view of the risks and threats that European countries are facing on a daily basis".
Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator, explains US resilience
During the meeting on 28th April, Deanne Criswell, Administrator of NCCN’s US counterpart FEMA, addressed the Network on how FEMA leads resilience for the US. She presented on the approach to crisis management in the US, the evolving role and importance of the emergency management profession, the value of partnerships and the shared mission of FEMA and the European National Crisis Centres: helping people - before, during, and after disasters. In the afternoon, she discussed lessons learnt from previous crises in the US.
Administrator Criswell: “If the last two years of the pandemic have taught us anything – it’s that we are all in this together. The partnerships we are forging in this room today are part of our strong global system of emergency management – together, we are building resilience in our nations by recognizing the interdependencies between us. And that is powerful”.
In order to strengthen the cooperation between Belgium and the US on crisis management, the NCCN signed a bilateral protocol with FEMA on Wednesday 27th April.
Learning from past crises and from each other
During the meeting, all the present directors of the national crisis centres took the floor. Past and present crises - the COVID-19 pandemic, the floods, the migration crisis, the Russian aggression against Ukraine, ... - were discussed and good practices that have been implemented were explained. Thanks to the development of the Network, these discussions and exchanges between European crisis managers are now encouraged and facilitated. This ensures the strengthening of responses to present and future crises, and thus of crisis management in Europe.
The Network of Directors of European Crisis Centres, established in 2018 at the initiative of the Belgian National Crisis Centre and supported by the Benelux Secretariat, aims to develop coordination between national crisis centres, to be mutually informed about the faced challenges, to share existing expertise and experiences while supporting each other implementing common solutions at the national level.