Brussels, 24 October 2008
The European Commission today proposes to grant € 7.6 million in aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund to help Cyprus meet emergency costs resulting from damage caused by an exceptionally severe drought. The aid will mainly help reimburse costs of emergency measures such as the transport of water from Greece.
Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner, responsible for the EU Solidarity Fund, said: “I am very happy that the College of Commissioners has endorsed my proposal: this is the first time we have used the Solidarity Fund to provide financial aid for emergency measures in response to an exceptional drought. Today's decision demonstrates that, when a major natural disaster strikes, the European Union will stand at the side of its Member States."
The cumulative effect of the drought in Cyprus led to serious consequences for living conditions, the economy and the natural environment, as well as a massive reduction in water levels on the island. By April 2008, its water reserves were near to depletion, resulting in a severely damaging environmental and socio-economic impact. The Cypriot authorities subsequently applied for financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund to help them respond to the damage, equivalent to an estimated 1.25% of the country's gross national income.
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Notes for editors:
In order to grant the Solidarity Fund aid to Cyprus, the Commission will ask the European Parliament and Council, as the EU's Budget Authority, to adopt what is called an amending budget. The Commission and Cyprus will then jointly sign an agreement setting out the conditions for implementing the aid.
The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was created after the floods which hit Central Europe in summer 2002. It grants emergency aid to Member States and acceding countries in the event of a major natural disaster.
To qualify for aid under the EUSF, countries must present an application containing a documented estimate of the damage. This is examined by the Commission in the light of criteria intended to ensure that EU funds are used to meet the most urgent needs.
In principle, payments from the Fund are limited to finance emergency
operations undertaken by the public authorities to alleviate non-insurable
damages such as putting infrastructures back in operation and providing
provisional accommodation. Private damage and income losses may not be