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IP/06/514

Brussels, 20 April 2006

Commission to pay nearly € 1.3 million to support Estonia in dealing with storm disaster in 2005

European Commissioner for Regional Policy and the Solidarity Fund,
Danuta Hübner, and Estonian Finance Minister Aivar Sõerd signed an agreement to pay € 1 289 765 to Estonia to reimburse emergency costs incurred after the severe storm of January 2005. The grant is being made available through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF). It will reimburse public funds spent on the immediate emergency response, in particular on rescue services, cleaning-up operations in affected areas and the restoration of basic infrastructure to working conditions.

Commissioner Hübner, responsible for the Solidarity Fund, said: "Estonia was particularly hit by the storm disaster early last year. With today’s agreement we are able to provide financial support to offset a share of the unprecedented financial costs and to help improve the living conditions of the population heavily affected by this natural event”.

Northern Europe was struck by a severe wind storm on 8/9 January 2005, which caused significant damage in Northern Europe. Responding to a request made by the Swedish, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian authorities, the European Commission proposed to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for four grants totalling nearly € 93 million to help dealing with the consequences of the wind storm.

The damages caused by the wind storm are estimated by the Estonian authorities at over € 47 million, affecting mostly infrastructures and forests, with over 1.1 million solid cubic meters of timber felled. The population suffered in particular from major disruption of electricity and telephone networks caused by falling trees. Counties on the Estonian west coast suffered also from flooding.

Background

The EU Solidarity Fund, created in 2002, grants 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 documented estimate of the damage which is examined by the Commission in the light of specific criteria, which are intended to ensure 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), which would cover disasters other than those arising from natural catastrophes and with improved eligibility criteria and delivery mechanisms (see MEMO/06/153)

For more information please consult the following website:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/funds/solidar/solid_en.htm


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