Brussels, 20 February 2007
The European Commission has proposed a grant from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) totalling some € 9.3 million to offset part of the costs incurred following the flood disaster that severely hit the Evros prefecture in March 2006. This financial assistance will be made available as soon as there is an agreement by the Budget Authority (European Parliament and Council); it will be used to reimburse the cost of emergency measures such as rescue services, the provision of temporary housing, the cleaning up of disaster stricken areas and the restoration of basic infrastructures to working condition.
Danuta Hübner, Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy and the Solidarity Fund, said: “The decision demonstrates the solidarity of the European Union towards the affected region, which had already been severely affected by floods in 2005, and particularly towards the citizens most affected by this disaster. The grant will help to offset the financial costs incurred in restoring basic infrastructures and in taking other emergency measures.”
Greece was struck by a severe flooding in March 2006, which caused significant damage in the Prefecture of Evros, on the Eastern border of Greece. The population in the areas near or next to the River Evros, where around 250 million m² of farmland was flooded, suffered particularly serious consequences. Apart from the severe damage to agriculture, the floods also seriously damaged transport and water supply networks. Total direct damages are estimated at € 372 million. The negative effect on economic activity caused by the floods, considered the worst over the last 50 years, took place in an area that has already been severely affected by floods in 2005. This cumulative effect had a huge impact on the economy of the region.
In conformity with the rules of the Solidarity Fund, the Commission has adopted a proposal to mobilise a total of € 9 306 527 to be granted to Greece. The amount, to become available, requires the adoption by the Budget Authority of an amending budget, and a subsequent financing agreement between the Commission and the Greek authorities.
The EU Solidarity Fund, created in 2002, grants emergency aid to Member States and acceding countries in the event of a major natural 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/05/111).
This proposal is pending in the Council.