This exploratory research project contains two parts, both carried out using qualitative research methods. The first part consists of a bilingual study (using both semi-structured interviewing and an online Delphi-survey) of Belgian actors involved in external emergency planning for upper tier Seveso companies. This gap analysis is primarily aimed at the national level, all the while being sensitive to regional differences and the various needs of actors with operational/administrative functions. In part 2 we use a written questionnaire and telephone interviews to map ways of tackling these issues in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland. The themes we depart from in both the national and interantional research are the development and use of the external plans themselves, training and exercises, the availability of resources and the way communication with the public is set up. We will formulate points of improvement, best practices and policy recommendations.