Presidency to put flood control on agenda

Water is a central element in the Hungarian Presidency’s programme. As a source of life, it has to be protected, but as a destructive force, it has to be controlled. Flood is one of the most common disaster types in Europe which does not respect borderlines. The flood workshop, to be held in Budapest between 24-26 January, sets out to find a common solution for this problem.

On 24 January, around 60 foreign experts visit Budapest to discuss the problems of integrated flood control. The European Union usually approaches these extreme hydrological events from an environmental perspective. This meeting, however, primarily aims to coordinate the civil protection aspects of flood control.

Flood is one of the most common disaster types, which threatens member states with increasingly severe consequences. During last year, the EU’s civil protection mechanism had to be activated 13 times. However, the Council has not dealt with the civil protection aspects of the subject since 2008. The objective of the workshop, organised by the Hungarian Presidency, is to prepare the Council’s resolution (position) that Justice and Home Affairs Ministers are expected to adopt in June.

Organised in the building of the Ministry of the Interior, the meeting will be opened by Lieutenant General György Bakondi, Head of the National Directorate General for Disaster Management. Then Mr Zoltán Illés, Minister of State for Environmental Affairs of the Ministry of Rural Development, will speak about flood prevention, flood disaster management and Hungary’s experiences in flood control in front of member state representatives and Commission experts.

Representatives of Germany, Sweden, Romania and Poland will speak about specific fields of disaster management mechanisms. Topics will include the coordination of activities of organisations involved in the mechanism, such as disaster management agencies, civil protection authorities, water authorities and local governments, as well as the utilisation of modern technology.

On the second day of the workshop, participants will form four panels to discuss questions raised during the plenary session and endeavour to identify deficiencies in present systems and cooperation. On the last day of the meeting participants will formulate the debate’s conclusion and finalise proposals related to the Council’s resolution.

Invitees of the workshop include Director-Generals of civil protection authorities from EU member states, members of the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Croatia. In addition, an observer will represent the USA’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the meeting.

75 percent of the financial background, required for the organisation of the integrated flood management workshop, is provided by a successful EU tender of the National Directorate General for Disaster Management, while the rest of the expenses will be covered from the Presidency’s budget.