Greece and the European Investment Bank (EIB) formally agreed on a new 595 million euro European Investment Bank loan.

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.

“Over recent months technical and financial experts from Greece and the EIBank have outlined projects across Greece where disaster preparedness can be improved through unlocking new investment.  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 said Christian Kettel Thomsen, EIB Vice President responsible for Greece.

The wildfire in Mati, Attiki, in July 2018, killed 102 people. It is one of the deadliest in the world of the 21st century.

The new initiative represents the largest ever targeted support for civil protection in Europe backed by the European Investment Bank.

It 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.

The programme will be implemented over the next 5 years and completely restructure civil protection in Greece.

13 regional civil protection teams will be set up, equiped with new communications networks and IT systems for use across the country.

“EIB is supporting visionary investment to fortify Greece against natural disasters, extreme weather and pandemics” said Christos Staikouras, Greek Minister of Finance and Governor of the European Investment Bank.

In Greece, about 200 peaple lost their lives because of floods and storms in the past 20 years

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.