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European Commission spends €600 million on 12 firefighting planes

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The European Commission announced on Monday it is spending €600 million ($650 million) from the EU budget to buy 12 planes to fight fires across the European Union.

During the summer when “lives, homes and livelihoods are increasingly under threat to large scale forest fires” these airplanes will provide vital assistance, the commission said in a statement.

The 12 planes are to be distributed across Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, France and Croatia, six EU member states all hard-hit by extreme heat and wildfires during the summer.

De Havilland manufactured the aircraft. EU Crisis Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said the purchases are an important move to advance the bloc’s firefighting capabilities.

The European Commission upgraded the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and created rescEU to further protect citizens from disasters and manage emerging risks.

The 12 aircraft join an EU fleet of firefighting planes, medical evacuation planes, and helicopters kept on reserve to support EU countries facing public emergencies.

In 2023, according to Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, wildfires burned around 500,000 hectares. This includes the largest wildfire recorded in the EU in Alexandroupolis, Greece, with over 96,000 hectares destroyed.

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