The European Union
The European Union has two dedicated bodies that deal with issues of marine pollution and emergency response and preparedness: the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the Civil Protection Unit. Both bodies attend the meetings of the Regional Agreements as the formal representatives of the EU, which is a Contracting Party to each of these Agreements.
European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)
EMSA oversees the maritime traffic in all European seas and provides central services to Member States with regard to many safety issues. EMSA has a dedicated oil spill response department that coordinates pollution preparedness and activities that are carried out by, and on behalf of, Member States. On request, EMSA also provides satellite images to coastal countries, which are a crucial source of information to identify oil spills, monitor the spreading of oil slicks and track their origins.
Civil Protection/ Emergency Response Coordination Centre
The Civil Protection Unit of the European Commission’s DG ECHO deals with emergency preparedness and response in the broadest sense, including humanitarian emergencies, earth quakes, floods and environmental pollution incidents. The Unit coordinates projects and activities that are carried out by and on behalf of Member States, often involving the national Civil Protection departments and marine pollution authorities.
The Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) coordinates the joint emergency response activities of Member States in and outside Europe. Developed as a coordination hub with the aim to reduce duplication of effort, the ERCC replaces and improves on the previous Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC).
A Member State in need of international resources can send a request to the ERCC and the ERCC will forward this request to focal points in each of the Member States. Member States that would like to offer services, equipment or other forms of support can offer this through the ERCC to the requesting country. Countries outside the EU can also request international assistance from EU countries by contacting the ERCC.
In Europe, coastal states work together in the field of marine pollution preparedness and response. Countries bordering a regional sea have agreed Regional Agreements for cooperation on a large number of environmental targets. As part of these Agreements, Protocols have been agreed that enable and facilitate mutual assistance and joint activities in the field of pollution monitoring and surveillance, preparedness and response. Links to the technical sites of these Regional Agreements are provided below, which provide a wide range of relevant information and meeting reports.
HELCOM Response (Baltic Sea) (in which Sea Alarm has observer status)
Copenhagen Agreement (Nordic countries)
OSPAR/Bonn Agreement (North Sea and NE Atlantic)
Lisbon Agreement (France, Portugal, Spain, Morocco)
Barcelona Convention/REMPEC, Mediterranean (with whom Sea Alarm has an MoU)
Bucharest Convention (Black Sea)