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European Commission - Press release
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission proposes €21 million for Spain following the earthquake in Lorca
Brussels, 17 November 2011 Today, Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, announced the Commission's proposal to allocate € 21 million to the Murcia region in Spain following two consecutive earthquakes in May 2011, hitting the town of Lorca. This support, coming from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) is aimed to finance emergency measures such as relief operations, clean up of affected areas and repair of basic infrastructure, by national, regional and local authorities.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, who is in charge of the EU Solidarity Fund, said: : "With this proposed funding we want to emphasize that the European Union is a union of solidarity as well. We want to provide the necessary support to cover part of the costs the region of Murcia and the Spanish authorities have had to make in the aftermath of the earthquake. The European Union's aim is to help restoring normal living conditions in Lorca".
On 11 May 2011, the town of Lorca was hit by two consecutive earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale, killing 9 people and injuring some 300. The disaster caused widespread damage to residential homes (100 000 people were evacuated), businesses, public buildings, cultural heritage sites and basic infrastructure.
The Spanish authorities submitted a request for assistance under the EUSF, in July 2011. Because the amount of direct damage (€ 842.8 million) was below the normal threshold for triggering the Solidarity Fund (0.6% of gross national income, € 3.5 billion in the case of Spain), the Commission was able to mobilise the "extraordinary regional disasters" clause. This allows the Commission to grant aid where a region has been hit by an extraordinary disaster, affecting the majority of the population, with serious and lasting repercussions on living conditions and the economic stability of the region.
The application made by the Spanish authorities details the severe damage on basic infrastructures and facilities, private dwellings and businesses as well as the disruption of local road networks. The earthquake also damaged a significant number of public schools, public library and music conservatory. Damages to the town's historic architectural monuments are also significantly impacting on the important tourism sector in the region.
In order to release the grant, the Commission will ask the budgetary authority (the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union) to adopt an amending budget to be incorporated into this year's Community budget.
This proposed European Union funding will help meet the cost of urgent measures taken by the Spanish authorities: restoration of infrastructure, temporary accommodation and rescue services, preventive infrastructure and immediate protection of cultural heritage and cleaning up of stricken zones. The funding cannot be used to provide compensation for damage to private property.
The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was established following the floods which struck central Europe in the summer of 2002. It grants emergency aid to Member States and EU accession countries affected by major natural disasters. Its annual budget is €1 billion.
On 6 October 2011, the Commission published a communication with proposals to make the EUSF simpler, clearer, quicker to respond and more visible to citizens. Following discussions with Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders, the Communication could lead to a legislative proposal at a later stage.
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