SOFIA, April 12 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) should improve its disaster response system as soon as possible, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said here on Thursday.
Catastrophic disasters in the recent past have proven that EU's current disaster response system "is not fit for purpose anymore," Stylianides told reporters after a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
"We need to increase our collective capacities against natural disasters, forest fires, floods, earthquakes, medical accidents, chemical accidents, and industrial accidents," Stylianides said.
"It is our moral duty to better protect our citizens and their properties," he said.
Stylianides noted that last November, the European Commission proposed the creation of rescEU, a reserve at European level of civil protection capabilities such as aerial forest fighting planes, special water pumps, field hospitals and emergency medical teams.
The new capacities would complement, not replace, the national capacities, Stylianides said.
"We have to do our utmost to have the new system in place as soon as possible. The next disaster unfortunately is just around the corner," he said.
According to data from the European Commission, over 200 people were killed by natural disasters in Europe and over one million hectares of forest have been destroyed in 2017.