Brussels, 19 September 2012
EU Solidarity Fund: A record €670 million for Emilia Romagna
The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn today announced the Commission's proposal to allocate EUR 670 million to Italy following two severe consecutive earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks in the region of Emilia-Romagna during May/June 2012, spreading out into the neighbouring regions of Veneto and Lombardy. The aim of the support, the highest ever amount allocated from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), is to cover the huge costs of restoring essential infrastructure, providing shelter and rescue services as well as protecting the cultural heritage of the region.
Commissioner Hahn, who visited Emilia Romagna himself in June, said "We need to help this highly productive region get back on its feet. This is the largest amount of aid granted by the European Union Solidarity Fund since it was created in 2002. It reflects the scale of damage that was inflicted by the earthquake here on thousands of families, on their homes, their livelihoods and on the region's economy as a whole. The priority is to rehouse and support the tens of thousands of people rendered homeless by this unprecedented disaster."
An application for aid under the EUSF was received from Italy on 27 July 2012, within the deadline of 10 weeks after the first damage was recorded on 20 May 2012. The Italian authorities reported direct damage amounting to EUR 13.3 billion, 3 billion more than the record damage caused by the L'Aquila earthquake in the Abruzzo region in 2009. This amount represents 0.86% of Italy's Gross National Income and exceeds by almost four times the criteria for mobilising the Solidarity Fund of EUR 3.6 billion (i.e. EUR 3 billion in 2002 prices) applicable to Italy in 2012.
By far the largest share of the cost of emergency operations (over EUR 465 million) relates to the provision of temporary accommodation for some 43 000 people for up to 3 years. Nearly EUR 90 million relate to repairs of basic infrastructure and over EUR 60 million to the cost of the rescue services.
The 20th May quake, with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale hit the area north of Bologna, towards Ferrara, causing fatalities and massive destruction to ancient buildings in surrounding towns. The second, with a force of 5.8 on the Richter scale hit the same region, this time towards the north of the city of Modena, on May 29th. The earthquakes caused 27 deaths; an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45,000 people had to be evacuated. There was serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and to the important cultural heritage sector.
By far the biggest part of the damage (nearly 92%) was recorded in Emilia‑Romagna, particularly in the provinces of Modena, Ferrara, Bologna and Reggio Emilia. Lombardy and Veneto were affected to a lesser extent with nearly 8% and 0.4% of total damage respectively.
The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was created after the floods which affected central Europe during the summer of 2002. It grants financial aid of up to one billion euro a year to Member States and accession countries affected by major natural disasters. Today the European Commission also adopted a draft amending budget to cover the amount involved. That will still need to be approved by EU Finance Ministers and the European Parliament.