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Finland exercises use of EU strategic stockpiles

Ministry of Social Affairs and HealthMinistry of the Interior
Publication date 30.5.2024 14.43
Press release
Kuva: Puolustusvoimat / Tiina Möttönen

The EU’s strategic stockpiles in Finland can be deployed in major accidents and emergencies. Supplies must be ready for delivery within 12 hours. An extensive exercise was organised under the lead of the Ministry of the Interior from 27 May to 30 May 2024 where assistance was delivered to an accident area. 

Finland has two rescEU strategic stockpiles that are funded by the European Commission. They are part of the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which offers countries the possibility to request assistance if their own resources are insufficient to deal with a major accident or emergency. The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) coordinates the delivery of assistance. It may request Finland, or any other country with similar reserves, to deliver supplies to a country struck by a major accident. 

Supplies must be ready for delivery within 12 hours. The strategic stockpiles are intended for use by EU Member States and countries involved in the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism in the event of major accidents or emergencies.

Exercises build routine and reliability 

The rescEU exercise focused on testing the cooperation abilities of public authorities and other organisations. Everything went according to plan, according to Project Manager Pertti Kelloniemi from the Ministry of the Interior, who oversaw the exercise.

“The exercise showed us that our system works. We tested the alarm and dispatch processes in cooperation with a wide range of public authorities. The processes and instructions were fit for purpose, and the personnel were equal to their tasks. Naturally, there is still room for improvement, and we will analyse the results in more detail and make any necessary changes,” Kelloniemi says.

In the exercise scenario, a fictitious country was struck by an earthquake and requested assistance from the EU. The earthquake damaged a nuclear power plant, resulting in the release of radioactive and chemical emissions to the environment. Moreover, the country’s healthcare system was strained to the limit because of an outbreak of a communicable disease. The ERCC requested Finland to deliver protective equipment, radiation counters and medical supplies to the accident area.

The exercise tested the mobilisation of different organisations, the collection and packing of supplies and the use of different transport modes up against a tight timeframe. Experts also instructed the recipients of the supplies in the correct use of protective equipment. In addition, the exercise tested the possibilities of carrying rescEU supplies by helicopter to a vessel in the Baltic Sea.

The concept for comprehensive security works well 

The exercise was a collaboration between the public authorities forming the rescEU project consortium and the Finnish Border Guard, the Finnish Defence Forces, the Finnish Customs, HUS and several private service providers.

“The exercise demonstrated that the Finnish concept of comprehensive security, where different organisations collaborate to manage the vital functions of society, works well even when we deliver supplies from our rescEU stockpiles to abroad. The Commission, too, has taken note of our success in engaging several key public authorities and other organisations in the rescEU project,” says Director of International Affairs Pauliina Eskola from the Department for Rescue Services of the Ministry of the Interior.

The first of the rescEU stockpiles in Finland contains protective equipment, counters and medical supplies to be used in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) accidents. The second stockpile will contain medicines and other supplies for treating patients who have been seriously injured in major accidents. 

Finland’s rescEU project is implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of the Interior by a consortium involving the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the National Emergency Supply Agency, and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. The Ministry of the Interior coordinates the rescEU strategic reserve projects and is the national competent authority of the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism.

Tarja Rantala, Project Manager, tel. +358 295 488 372, [email protected]

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