For an effective strategy in risk management it is important to understand the context in which authorities are operating. To shed a light on this context, PRIMO Europe is doing an intercultural case study on risk management in two European countries – the Netherlands and France. By Jossy Res
Risks don’t stay within the borders of our own country. Especially with the current global risks that we are facing today, like the climate crisis, we need to look beyond our horizon and cooperate. PRIMO Europe is answering this need by sharing knowledge about European risk management.
In an interview with Gérard Combe of PRIMO France it becomes obvious that French risk management means working with power distance. France is a strong normative state with regional councils who play a crucial role in managing all kind of risks. According to Gérard Combe “whenever an event of significant repercussions occurs, the Prefect takes sole command for all of the operations”.
However, Combe acknowledges that we have to act local and think global. Therefore, we need an efficient exchange of information between the national, regional and local level. He underlines: “Risk management needs constant evaluation and analysis on all levels. In this sense it is not a matter of choosing between centralisation or decentralisation.” Moreover, we have to stay aware of the existing gap between the perception of risk treatment and the actual treatment. “One of the biggest risks is thinking that we are prepared. As a matter of fact you never really know”.
With cultural differences and different approaches within the European Union we are facing considerable challenges. Is real European cooperation a utopia? “The main difference is that in France we have a more political approach of risk management, whereas in the Netherlands we see a more technical approach. If we want to succeed in working together, it is important to have clear references in what we manage”, says Combe. In other words, in order to develop a European cooperation it is necessary to define our common references.
But what if we need to consider all the different laws and rules in each country? Combe: “At the legislative level it will be hard to cooperate within Europe. However, we can improve our risk management with the exchange of information. It is important to have an effective Early Warning System. Therefore, we need a transversal approach to management with clear international references”.