Brussels, 22 August 2005
Responding to a request made by the Swedish, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian authorities, the European Commission today proposed to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for four grants totalling nearly € 93 million to help dealing with the consequences of a wind storm that severely hit Northern Europe in January 2005. The money will be used for reimbursing the cost of emergency measures that the countries incurred such as rescue services, the immediate cleaning up of disaster stricken areas and the restoration of basic infrastructure to working condition.
Danuta Hübner, Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy and the Solidarity Fund, said: “The Commission’s proposal is an expression of the Union’s solidarity with the affected regions in northern Europe and will help to offset the financial costs that they have incurred in restoring infrastructure and in taking other emergency measures. The Commission is proposing an amending budget so that the Council and Parliament can make the resources available for the benefit of the affected regions and their citizens.”
Northern Europe was struck by a severe wind storm on 8/9 January 2005, which caused significant damage in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In the South of Sweden, damages were particularly high and are estimated at nearly € 2.3 billion. The storm caused the death of nine people and felled 75 million cubic metres timber, affecting electricity supply and telecommunications.
In the three Baltic States, the storm caused severe damage to agriculture, forestry, electricity and infrastructure networks, transport and communication. The estimated total damages amount to approximately € 192 million in Latvia, to € 48 million in Estonia and to around € 15 million in Lithuania.
In conformity with the rules of the Solidarity Fund the Commission proposes a total of € 92.88 million to be granted to the four countries, of which € 81.73 million to Sweden, € 9.49 million to Latvia, € 1.29 million for Estonia and an amount of € 0.37 million to Lithuania.
The EU Solidarity Fund, created in 2002, grants emergency aid to Member States and acceding countries in the event of a major disaster. Its annual allocation amounts to € 1 billion. To qualify for aid under the Solidarity Fund, countries must provide a precise estimate of the damage and meet specific criteria, ensuring that EU funds are used to meet the most urgent needs.
The conditions for implementing the aid by the recipient must be laid down in an agreement between the Commission and the beneficiary country.
On 6 April 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal for the new and improved
EU Solidarity Fund (for 2007-2013), with an enlarged scope and a lowered
threshold for eligibility.
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