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European Member States (and some neighbouring countries such as Norway, Iceland and candidate Member States) cooperate at the European level under different umbrellas.

The European Commission ran a programme for cooperation in the field of marine pollution until 2006, based on the Community framework for cooperation in the field of accidental or deliberate Marine Pollution. Actions under this framework were then managed by the Civil Protection Unit of DG Environment, supported by the Management Committee for Marine Pollution (MCMP).

MCMP was composed of high level government experts from the coastal European Member States, Norway and Iceland which acted as an interface between the services of the Commission and national administrations. Their role was to exchange views, to express opinions on actions to be taken, and to define current and future priorities for European level actions in marine pollution preparedness and response. As the Community Framework and MCMP are no longer in operation, some of their tasks (which fit within the Agency’s mandate of at-sea pollution preparedness and response) have been handed over to the European Maritime Safety Agency.

MCMP had a serious interest in oiled wildlife response and planning, and financed several projects which support the Community Framework, including technical workshops on different aspects of oiled wildlife response and the project that resulted in the creation of EUROWA.

The Emergency Response Coordination Centre or ERCC is operated by the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG Echo) of the European Commission. The ERCC is the operational heart of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism. Available on a 24/7 basis, it provides countries access to the community civil protection platform in case of disasters such as pollution incidents, forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. Any country affected by a major disaster – inside or outside the EU – can request assistance through the ERCC.

During emergencies the ERCC plays three important roles: serving as a communications hub for the exchange of requests and offers of assistance; providing information on civil protection preparedness and response to participating states and a wider audience of interested stakeholders and supporting co-ordination of European assistance. The ERCC provides emergency communications and monitoring tools through the web-based Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS).

The mission of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is to ensure safe, secure and clean transport by ships in European waters. EMSA’s provides technical and scientific assistance to the European Commission and Member States in the proper development and implementation of EU legislation on maritime safety, pollution by ships and security onboard ships.

In the field of marine pollution preparedness and response, EMSA has an operational role implemented through the 2004 Action Plan for Pollution Preparedness and Response. This Plan identifies actions, in co-operation with Member States, to strengthen the current pollution preparedness and response framework in Europe. To this end, EMSA manages a network of stand-by oil recovery vessels for European sea areas, which can be mobilised on request, when the scale of a pollution incident is beyond the resources available in the affected country. EMSA also provides a satellite based monitoring system for marine oil spill detection and surveillance in European waters (CleanSeaNet) The service provides oil spill alerts to Member States with rapid delivery of available satellite images and oil slick position.

In 2008 the Agency established the MAR-ICE service to provide information and expert advice on chemicals involved in maritime emergencies. The service is available to national administrations 24/7 via a dedicated contact point. MAR-ICE is a network created in cooperation with Cefic and Cedre. MAR-CIS chemical information sheets have also been developed to assist the relevant authorities charged with responding to incidents involving hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) spills. The information sheets contain substance-specific and maritime-relevant information on chemicals, allowing authorities to identify the contents of any possible spill, and make assessments on the danger that may exist for the crew, the nearby population, and the marine environment.

In 2014, EMSA published a new Action Plan for Response to Marine Pollution from oil and gas installations, with a new mandate expanding its toolbox to provide new pollution response capabilities for combatting pollution caused by offshore installations.

EMSA undertakes preparedness and response activities with Member States and Regional Agreements through a Consultative Technical Group for Marine Pollution Preparedness & Response (CTG MPPR), to disseminate best practices and information in this field and work on projects of common interest.

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