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IP/02/1686

Brussels, 15 November 2002

Solidarity Fund: Council and Parliament back Commission plans to grant EUR 728 million to German, Austrian, Czech and French regions hit by floods

The European Parliament and Council of Ministers today endorsed European Commission proposals to grant € 728 million to help alleviate damage caused by this summer´s heavy floods. This first-ever use of the newly created European Union Solidarity Fund will, once formally adopted, free up € 444 million for Germany, € 134 million for Austria, € 129 million for the Czech Republic and € 21 million for France. The Solidarity Fund was set up in the space of just three months to allow for rapid financial assistance in the event of a major disaster. It can be used, among other things, to restore vital infrastructure and clean up affected regions. Today's provisional agreement by the Council and Parliament, in their role as Budgetary Authority, should allow the Commission to begin payments before the end of the year.

Commenting on the provisional agreement on the Solidarity Fund, Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer said : « I am delighted that the European Parliament and all the Member States back up so strongly this new instrument of solidarity. This is a perfect example of how close co-operation between the EU institutions can bring tangible benefits for Europe's citizens. »

Michel Barnier added, Commissioner responsible for regional policy and in charge of the management of the Fund said :"The Solidarity Fund is now fully up and running. The Commission intends to move immediately to sign the agreements with the countries concerned so that financial help for reconstruction can be delivered to the affected areas without delay. Created in record time, the Fund is confirmation that Europe exists for its citizens even in the most difficult of situations."

The European Solidarity Fund, worth up to € 1 billion annually, was set up following the floods that hit central Europe during the summer of 2002. It can be used for:

  • Restoration to working order of infrastructure and plant in the fields of energy, water and waste water, telecommunications, transport, health and education.

  • Provision of accommodation and funding rescue services to meet the needs of the population concerned.

  • Securing of preventive infrastructures and measures for immediate protection of the cultural heritage.

  • Cleaning up of disaster-stricken areas, including natural zones.

Note for editors

Political agreement on the proposals was reached between the Parliament and Council in conciliation on 22 October 2002. The Inter-institutional Agreement was adopted on 7 November and the legal base on 11 November 2002. Following today's decision in principle, the Budgetary Authority must now formally adopt the Amending Budget by early December.

For further details, see IP/02/1662


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