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Brussels, 6 June 2005
Slovakia is to receive help from the EU’s Solidarity Fund for severe storm damage suffered in November 2004, when bad weather wreaked havoc in the country. Following a Slovak request for such funding in January 2005, the Commission has proposed €5.67 million to help with the costs of reconstruction.
On 24 January 2005 the Commission received an application to mobilise the EU Solidarity Fund relating to a wind storm that struck Slovakia on 19/20 November 2004. The Commission has thoroughly examined the application and determined that it meets the “major disaster” criterion for using the Fund.
The storm killed two people, and hit around 28% of the total area in the affected regions (Banská, Bystrica, Košice, Prešov, Žilina) with a population of almost three million inhabitants. It damaged infrastructure and severely affected forests. From satellite imagery and aerial photography, the Commission services estimated that the storm had damaged an area of slightly more than 20 000 ha, with the brunt of the destruction borne by forests within the Tatra national park.
Damage to forests is estimated at a maximum €195 million- This amount is above the threshold of 0.6% of Slovakia’s Gross National Income/GNI (€172 million), so the event qualifies as a major natural disaster according to the law. Total cost of emergency operations has been estimated at almost €28 million.
Structural funding is separately to be re-allocated for the rehabilitation of tourist facilities and the development of the affected areas. Measures are also foreseen here for the procurement and utilisation of equipment for biomass processing (e.g. for use in energy generation).
To qualify for Solidarity Fund aid, countries hit by a major disaster must provide an estimate of the damage and meet specific criteria, ensuring that EU funds are used to meet the most urgent needs. A "major disaster" is an event causing damage estimated at over € 3 billion or more than 0.6% of the GNI of the state concerned.
The total annual budget still available for the Solidarity Fund is €1 billion. None has been used so far in 2005.
To cover the commitments of the proposed €5.67 million from the Solidarity Fund, payments will be made available by a transfer from other areas of the budget, which the Commission will propose to the budgetary authority.
Financial assistance from the Structural Fund is to be reallocated within the
Sectoral Operational Programme (SOP) Industry and Services.