Fighting forest fires: EU invests in new Canadairs

More European Canadairs against fires in Mediterranean countries

The increasing threat of forest fires in Mediterranean countries has prompted the European Commission to take decisive measures to protect the affected regions. The news of the purchase of 12 new Canadair aircraft, financed entirely by the European Union, has raised a ray of hope in the fight against this disastrous natural phenomenon. However, the bad news is that these new rescue vehicles will not be available until 2027.

The deployment of the Canadairs is designed to cover a wide area, including Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The aim is to strengthen the EU’s aerial fire-fighting fleet, so that it can respond more effectively to intense fires, which unfortunately seem to be becoming increasingly common.

Meanwhile, to cope with the current situation, some countries have activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which allows them to request assistance from other nations to fight fires. So far, Greece and Tunisia have made use of this mechanism, obtaining the support of more than 490 firefighters and nine firefighting aircraft.

The year 2023 marked a particularly devastating year for fires in Europe, with more than 180,000 hectares of land burned. This figure represents a worrying 29 per cent increase over the average of the last 20 years, while in Greece, the area burned exceeded 83 per cent of the annual average.

The European Commission has already taken measures in the past, doubling its reserve air fleet last year

It has also implemented the Forest Fire Prevention Action Plan, which aims to improve the administrative capacity and knowledge of stakeholders, as well as increase investment in prevention actions.
However, European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič emphasises that the real long-term solution lies in combating climate change. Extreme weather conditions caused by global warming make fire seasons more intense and prolonged. Therefore, Lenarčič calls for an ecological transition, in which the international community gets serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting more sustainable environmental policies.

The prospect of a European fire-fighting service was mentioned as a possibility for the future, but at the moment the competence for civil protection lies with the individual member states, with the EU playing a coordinating role. However, if the frequency and intensity of fires continue to increase, the creation of a European fire service could become a serious consideration.

In conclusion, forest fires are an increasing threat to Mediterranean countries. The announcement of the purchase of the 12 new Canadairs is an important step towards a more effective response to this environmental emergency. However, it is crucial that we continue to work on prevention and the fight against climate change so that the future can be less marked by tragedies caused by flames. Solidarity and cooperation between European countries are essential to face this challenge and to protect our environment and our communities together.



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