Mutual Assistance Agreements

The European Union has also concluded partnership and cooperation agreements with a number of countries, including Russia and Ukraine, which cover customs cooperation and contain a mutual assistance protocol. Assistance agreements accelerate emergency measures by establishing protocols for requesting and granting aid and pre-defining reimbursement and compensation strategies and procedures, eliminating or reducing the extent to which these issues must be negotiated with each new event. Formal pre-event assistance agreements may also expedite FEMA`s reimbursement of services, equipment and supplies provided as part of mutual assistance. FEMA reimburses the costs of mutual assistance when assistance has been requested (i.e. no spontaneous assistance), assistance requested directly in the context of a disaster eligible for FEMA assistance and which was carried out under a written assistance agreement signed.2 The assistance agreement must apply in all situations, and not just for events that trigger an emergency/disaster declaration of the Stafford Act or are the subject of a request for federal assistance. Only the organization seeking mutual assistance can apply directly for financial assistance from FEMA; Aid agencies must demand a refund from the requesting organization. FEMA reimburses the assistance agreements orally, but they must be recorded in writing after the event and signed by an official of each institution as a condition for the reimbursement of the FemA. The agreements also contain a chapter on mutual assistance in customs matters, which defines the circumstances under which customs authorities can exchange information on customs violations and cases of fraud. The rules must be strictly enforced. In addition, data protection rules must be enforced and the confidentiality of the information must be preserved. We describe the basic legal framework for states to provide mutual assistance between states and internationals, to identify gaps in this framework and to make proposals that could be taken to fill these gaps. We focus on: (1) types of mutual assistance; (2) current federal approaches to promoting the increased use of mutual assistance agreements by states; (3) State mutual assistance projects, including efforts to assess legal competences; and (4) Constitutional and other legal issues relating to mutual assistance (Tables 1▶-3▶▶ include laws and other authorities in relation to international and intergovernmental mutual assistance).

Our conclusions point out that while existing legal powers may authorize certain types of mutual assistance (for example. (B) exchange of information), several additional measures, including legislative changes by the state, congressional approval, final legal interpretations and emergency declarations by governors, will be required before other forms of mutual assistance can be implemented. Mutual assistance agreements and other types of assistance agreements facilitate the rapid sharing of emergency aid and resources between governments and organizations at all levels. These can include existing agreements, such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), or the creation of new tools to deal with emerging events or parts outside of existing compacts.