To prepare for the risk of forest fires during the upcoming summer, the Commission is launching today the first fleet of firefighting aircraft under the new rescEU system to tackle natural disasters. So far seven firefighting airplanes and six helicopters will be part of the rescEU fleet during an initial transition period, and the Commission is working together with the participating countries to add extra assets in the coming weeks. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “rescEU is a concrete response, a European response, to help our many citizens who face the threat of natural disasters. We were all shocked, as Europeans, when many people lost their lives in the last years due to forest fires from Portugal to Greece. European solidarity must be about protecting citizens and helping each other in difficult times. rescEU offers practical solutions and puts European solidarity firmly into action.”Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianidesadded:“Forest fires do not wait. To save lives and protect citizens, the EU and its Member States joined forces and made rescEU a reality. With rescEU, we have an extra “safety net” at times of crisis. I am very proud to see our European forest fire fighting fleet becoming a reality this summer. I would like to thank each and every participating State that has contributed to this fleet – preparing us in the best way possible for this year’s fire season.” Europe has witnessed severe natural and man-made disasters in recent years: forest fires, floods, storms and earthquakes resulted in loss of lives – more than 100 in 2018. To better protect citizens in need, rescEU reinforces the Union’s collective ability to prevent, prepare and respond to disasters that affect our societies as of now.