EU provides €600 million to strengthen rescEU firefighting fleet

The Commission is financing the purchase of new firefighting planes to increase the aerial firefighting capacity of rescEU, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism’s strategic crisis response reserve. €600 million in EU funds will be used to purchase 12 new planes, which will be hosted across 6 EU Member States: Croatia, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

These new planes will be used to extinguish fires across the European Union, in particular during the difficult summer months when lives, homes and livelihoods are coming increasingly under threat to large scale forest fires. They will be delivered as of 2027, with the existing rescEU transition planes operating until the whole fleet is operational.

The announcement comes as Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, participated in Zagreb today in the signature ceremony of the agreement between the government of Croatia and the Canadian Commercial Corporation to purchase specialised firefighting aircraft. This, together with the signature of a similar agreement by the government of Greece recently, marks an important step in increasing the aerial firefighting capacity in the EU, protecting EU citizens from disasters.

Five years ago, the European Commission upgraded the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and created rescEU to further protect citizens from disasters and manage emerging risks. Fully funded by the EU, rescEU was established as a reserve of European capacities, and it includes a fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters. In 2023 alone, rescEU was deployed 35 times for a total estimated value of €110 million of assistance, including in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the earthquakes that hit Türkiye, and the wildfires in Tunisia and Greece.


The EU ensures a coordinated approach to preventing, preparing and responding to wildfires when those overwhelm national response capacities. When the scale of a wildfire overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Once activated, the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre coordinates and finances assistance made available by 27 EU Member States and 10 Participating States (Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Türkiye, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Moldova and Ukraine) through spontaneous offers.

On 25 March 2024, the government of Croatia signed an agreement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation about the purchase of the medium amphibious aircraft. The government of Greece signed a similar agreement with the Canadian producer on 24 March. Six EU Member States (Greece, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal) will host the new aerial firefighting fleet being financed by the Commission under rescEU.