LISBON, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's Minister of Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita, said on Sunday that Portugal was at the forefront of European Union (EU) plans to bolster disaster response capabilities.
"The speedy establishment of a new European civil protection mechanism was prompted and justified by events witnessed in Portugal last year," Cabrita told the Lusa Portuguese News Agency.
He was referring to the devastating forest fires that killed over 100 people and destroyed hundreds of hectares in Portugal in 2017.
Plans to strengthen the EU's civil protection disaster response unit and make it better able to provide support to member states will be discussed at the 6th European Civil Protection Forum next week.
"We will declare our firm commitment to the creation of a European mechanism able to respond to large-scale threats, not just forest fires, but floods and epidemics too," said Cabrita.
The forum is a biannual event staged by the European Commission. This year's event will take place in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday and has the theme "Civil Protection in a Changing Risk Landscape."