INTERR’RED is a project financed by the Interreg V-A France-Belgium-Germany-Luxembourg (Greater Region) with an additional EUR 4 million coming from ERDF contributions. Its goal is to provide emergency and civil protection services in the cross-border areas of the Greater Region. These territories have no physical borders and therefore policymakers need to consider risks to the general interest of the whole region instead of solely national interests. Risks can be both natural (e.g. river floods) and manmade (fires, nuclear power plant activities, busy motorways etc.). The project has been financed as an intervention to ‘Improve the delivery of health care and prevention services’ (whose ERDF allocation is approximately EUR 33.5 million).
The project covers all the partner countries of the Greater Region. The regions concerned are Moselle (FR), Luxembourg, Wallonia (BE), Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate (DE).
The delivery of the project relies on the composition of the partnership. The project is led by the Moselle Departmental Fire and Rescue Services (FR) and, consistently with the rules set by the Programme Greater Region for assessing and selecting the projects to be financed, it includes both ‘operational’ and ‘methodological’ partners. The former provides competences and resources to concretely contribute to the expected results at project level. The latter represents institutions, linked to project objectives, with skills in certain thematic areas, but does not include budgetary support.
Partners at the operational level are made up of authorities responsible for rescue and emergency services at a national and regional level. This consists of the Grand-Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps and the Zone de Secours of Luxemburg, and the Ministry of Interior and Sport of Rhineland-Palatinate region (DE).
Overall, the involvement of partners that specialise in civil protection and the planning of preparedness in the event of emergency is crucial in overcoming the legal and logistical barriers that exist due to the differing emergency systems in the partner countries.
Although the project is yet to be completed (it is scheduled to end in December 2021), it has already accomplished several results:
- Emergency services have signed cross-border agreements to share transport resources. Efforts focus on cross-border mobility of disaster victims.
- Staff training packages have been developed to connect the region’s emergency call centres.
- The project promotes innovation with regards to emergency assessment and response by using drones, robots and computer simulations.
- The project partners are helping to negotiate agreements on access to some cross-border healthcare resources that are not available in all countries. For example, the region only has one decompression chamber, at the Emile Mayrisch hospital centre in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.
- The project has developed an online database for training and is drafting a risk identification plan for the Greater Region to ensure sustainable cooperation after the project’s completion.
- By signing partnership and operational coverage agreements, the project outputs expect to build a legal framework. Moreover, bi-national partnerships at a local level will allow for the organisation of joint relief operations.
Evidence of the project’s ability to provide emergency services to the population of the Greater Region during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that it is already having a positive impact. Cooperation among civil security actors has proven to be stronger than ever and the efforts of the coordinated actions have been channelled to assist victims of COVID-19. Cooperation has reached new heights of solidarity with information on emergency developments being shared and exchanged on a weekly basis. Resources (from equipment to personnel) have been redeployed to where they are most needed and pooled together to improve the speed and quality of the response.
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