Juncker confirms that EU response to fight wildfires in Portugal arrived too late
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    Juncker confirms that EU response to fight wildfires in Portugal arrived too late

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament today that the EU civil protection mechanism does not work “100 %”. “It’s not normal that, when a fire starts on a Sunday morning in Portugal, we must wait until Wednesday evening to see the first European plane coming to help. We must speed up the process,” he said.

    He added that he has instructed Commissioner Stylianides to reflect before the end of the year, on the remodeling and rearrangement of the EU civil protection mechanism.

    As previously has been reported a senior EU official told The Brussels Times that Portugal had activated the protection mechanism at around 20.45 pm on Sunday evening and requested four fire-fighting planes.

    Only Italy responded to the request at Monday noon and sent two planes which arrived on Tuesday morning respective Tuesday noon when all active fires already had been extinguished.

    In this speech today (24 October) Juncker commented briefly on the conclusions of the European Council summit last week.

    He mentioned among others the Commission’s proposals on migration policy and the digital internal market. “We are wasting time and it’s urgent that we agree on all of these proposals.”

    On the digital agenda, he said that the Commission has proposed 43 initiatives, 24 of which are of a legislative nature. “The Council and Parliament to date have adopted 6 directives. This is not very impressive and we have to make things happen since everyone is talking about digital.”

    He also complained that the EU member states had not contributed to the emergency trust fund for Africa. “It’s scandalous. Talking about Africa with tears in our eyes and not doing what we are committed to is unacceptable.”

    He also reminded about the forthcoming EU social summit in Göteborg, Sweden. The first one took place 20 years ago and the second takes place only this year (17 November), focusing on fair jobs and growth. “We must ensure that the social dimension of Europe does not remain pious speech.”

    On Brexit he said the Commission is not negotiating in a hostile mood. “We want a deal. Those who don’t want a deal – the no-dealers – they have no friends in the Commission. We want a fair deal with Britain and we will have a fair deal with Britain.”

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times