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European Commission - Press release

EU Solidarity Fund: Commission proposes €16.9 million for Veneto (Italy) in the aftermath of severe floods

Brussels, 17 November 2011 - Today, Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, confirmed the Commission's proposal to allocate € 16.9 million to the Veneto region in Italy to cope with the consequences of the severe rainfalls of October 2010. The grant is being made available through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF). It will contribute towards the costs borne by public authorities in response to the emergency, in particular for restoring essential infrastructure.

Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for the EU Solidarity Fund, stated: " Solidarity is not a vain word in Europe. Today's agreement gives concrete expression to the support we can provide to Veneto, hit by severe floods last year. This will help to offset Italy’s costs relating to emergency measures and improve the living conditions of the population affected by this most unfortunate natural event ."

From 31 October to 2 November 2010, the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy was hit by torrential rainfall. The effects of the heavy rainfall were aggravated by a warm Mediterranean “Sirocco” wind that melted the snow in the nearby mountains. This meteorological phenomenon triggered rivers to burst their banks flooding widespread areas, causing damage to road and infrastructure networks, agriculture, businesses and residential homes.

The Italian authorities submitted an initial request for assistance from the EUSF in January 2011 complemented in August 2011. The Commission recognised damage amounting to EUR 676.4 million. Since this amount was below the normal threshold for mobilising the EU Solidarity Fund (0.6% of gross national income, € 3.5 billion in the case of Italy), 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 highlights the damage to private property, vital infrastructure (such as the A4 motorway), businesses, agriculture and the cultural heritage, concentrated in the Bacchiglione river basin. 40 400 enterprises were at risk as a consequence of the flood of which 9 900 are small enterprises, employing some 250 000 people.

Background

In order to release the grant for Veneto region, the Commission will ask the budget authority (the European Parliament and the EU Member States) 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 Italian authorities: restoration of infrastructure, temporary accommodation and rescue services, preventive infrastructure (for instance, enhancing the safety standards of the water management system), cleaning up of stricken zones, etc. However, 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.

For further information:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/thefunds/solidarity/index_en.cfm

Contacts :

Ton Van Lierop (+32 2 296 65 65)

Marie-Pierre Jouglain (+32 2 298 44 49)


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