Council of the European Union - Emergency Management
Council of the European Union.
The Council of the EU is, along with the European Commission and the European
Parliament one of the Unions main policy-making institutions. It is the second of four
European institutions whose origins lie in the 1951 Treaty of Paris, establishing the
European Coal and Steel Community.
The Council of the European Union is the Union's primary decision-making body
since no important policy action or legislative decision in the Union can be taken
without the Council's agreement.
The General Secretariat of the Council (GSC)was established in 1952, at the first
meeting of the Council, to provide proper written record of discussions as well as
translation and legal service.
These basic tasks of the Secretariat have evolved over the years, and since 2004
they also include Business Continuity Planning.
The European Council (often called EU Summit) is the most famous event
organised by the Council of the European Union.
This event is organised 4 times per year in Brussels and brings together the 27 heads
of state of the EU, the ministers of foreign affairs and finance, some 1000 other
member state delegates and ambassadors about 4000 officials and contract staff
and up to 2000 journalists.
It speaks for itself that the prevention of incidents (security, safety etc.) and
preparedness in managing emergencies are high priorities.
Business Continuity Planning Service.
The GSC's Business Continuity Planning (BCP) service has been in existence since
Its terms of reference are to develop a comprehensive business continuity master
plan enabling the institution to increase its resilience to disruption and to continue
its mission-critical activities with minimal interruption in case a serious incident.
This business continuity master plan comprises of a general framework defining the
scope and the objectives of the project, as well as a series of departmental
The Business Continuity Planning Service is adhering to the professional practices
for business continuity planners advocated by the Business Continuity Institute and
the Disaster Recovery Institute International.
The 3 objectives of the BCP service are: prevention, emergency management and
For emergency management the Council uses three management levels: gold,
silver and bronze, materialised by respectively strategic, tactical crisis
management and operational teams.
The Gold team looks over the horizon and is in charge of strategic decisions and
communication with the political stakeholders. This team is staffed by the top
management of the organisation.
The silver team is responsible for tactical management, it defines the impact of the
disaster and the priorities for action. Its main objectives are to protect people,
facilities and business. The Silver Team in our organisation is called the Crisis
Management Team (CMT), it has of 10 members and 10 backups. The CMT is
chaired by a director general and the other members are directors of key
The CMT operates from a crisis room, equipped with emergency procedures crisis
communication- and IT tools, and has a backup room in the remote location.
The bronze teams form the operational organisation, which has to tackle the
immediate consequences of the disaster and is in charge of executing the
decisions made by the silver team (CMT) on the ground
These operational teams are dealing with fire fighting, medical care, security, IT
recovery, building issues etc.
Emergency Care Team (ECT)
The Emergency Care Team (ECT) is a unique bronze team since it does, at my
knowledge, not exist in any other organisation.
The ECT is an international casualty bureau staffed by more than 300 volunteers
recruited amongst the employees of the Council, that can operate in 22 different
Since we have thousands of international visitors every day and employees from all
the EU member states, we use the 23 different EU languages in our organisation.
For this reason the Belgian casualty bureau, which only works in French and Dutch,
would have difficulties treating the calls from persons calling in the other
The policy of the GSC is to exercise the Emergency Management structures on a
regular basis by rehearsing team members and staff and testing both technology
As part of Council's BCP programme, in 2004 a start was made in setting up crisis
management and crisis communication structures.
The Press is present on a daily basis in the buildings of the Council and needs to be
informed correctly and in a timely manner in case of disaster.
Communication is also vital to the success of the plan itself, as in a crisis situation
speed of reaction and decision- making are absolutely vital to ensure the safety
and security of staff, other users of GSC buildings and the surrounding environment.
In our organisation we decided to prepare, as much as possible, our crisis
communications on beforehand.
The head of our press office is the official spokesman during Crisis. The press office
has developed a crisis communication manual in which we find pre written
statements covering various incidents: terrorist attacks, Kidnapping, bomb,
biochemical attack, a plane crash, traffic accidents(explosion of a truck), fire,
collapse of the building, natural disasters, flooding, storm, Pandemic and the
death of a VIP in our building
For the mass internal communication, to personnel and visitors in the building, we
have prepared internal messages for email, intranet, internet and public address
systems or printed flyers if necessary.
For communication with personnel outside the building (after evacuation) we
have a dark internet website. When it is activated after the incident, our
employees can log in to the system in order to read information about the situation
and to receive instructions about their role in the recovery process.
Crisis Co-ordination with external agencies and authorities
The Belgian state prepares particular emergency plans for critical infrastructure on
Since the council of the European union falls under this criteria, these plans were
prepared for our organisation in coordination with Governor of the Brussels Region
and the Belgian Federal Crisis Centre.
One of the key objectives of this project is that the Council's crisis strategy should
be seamlessly incorporated into the Belgian crisis strategy, and to be prepared for
a smooth cooperation between the different disciplines involved in the crisis
Ir. Philip Meulenberghs
Business Continuity Manager
Council of the European Union
Rue de la Loi 175
+32 2 281 80 34
Ir. Philip Meulenberghs has an MSc degree in Civil Engineering from the University
He worked for ten years in the private sector, for Siemens and Belgacom, where he
occupied various posts in the area of project management, engineering, security
and business continuity.
In 1999 he accepted the function of Corporate Security Manager at Belgacom.
The Business Continuity Service of Belgacom, for which he was already responsible
before, stayed under his wings.
In the aftermath of the 911 attacks he was hired in 2002 by the Council of the
European Union where he was asked to create a new Security Engineering
He also developed the Council's official physical security policies and standards
and developed practical solutions for Council buildings against security risks,
including terrorism and espionage.
His projects covered the Headquarters in Brussels- including the building for the
Presidency-, several VIP residences, conference centres in Luxembourg, embassies
in New York and Geneva, and various facilities for EU civilian crisis management
missions over the world, often located in difficult environments such as
Afghanistan, Congo, Kosovo, etc.
In his function as Head of Security Engineering he was also in charge of Business
Continuity planning for critical security linked activities, he was member of the
Incident Control Team (operational branch of the Crisis Management) and he
seated as deputy of the Security Director in the Council Crisis Management Team
(strategical branch of Crisis Management).
Since 2008 he is working full time in the domain of Business Continuity Planning for