Brussels, 25 July 2013
Making the EU Solidarity Fund faster and simpler for support after disasters
European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has today presented a proposal to reform the EU Solidarity Fund. The plans, adopted today by the European Commission, will make the fund more responsive and simpler to use with clearer criteria as to who can benefit.
Since its creation in 2002, the Solidarity Fund has responded to 52 disasters across Europe including earthquakes, forest fires, drought, storms and floods. 23 countries have been supported with more than €3.2 billion. If today's proposals are approved by the European Parliament and EU member states, disaster-hit countries and regions can expect significant improvements to the way the Solidarity Fund works.
Commissioner Hahn commented: "We must be more responsive in helping countries to rebuild and recover after disasters. The European Commission's proposal is a clear expression of solidarity to help Europe's regions or countries when they are most in need. The changes we have agreed will make the Solidarity Fund faster, clearer, and simpler to use. It will also encourage countries to step up their efforts in preventing and managing disasters in the first place. I would now urge the European Parliament and Member States to approve these plans and lose no time in creating a Solidarity Fund that will work more efficiently and effectively."
The new legislative proposal simplifies the existing rules so that aid can be paid out more rapidly than is currently the case. The plans also introduce the possibility of advance payments for the first time. They spell out more clearly who and what will be eligible, particularly for regional disasters. As well as this, the reform encourages Member States to put disaster prevention and risk management strategies higher on the agenda. The principles of the Fund are unchanged as is the way it is financed, outside the normal EU budget.
The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up to support EU member states and accession countries by offering financial support after major natural disasters. The Fund was created in the wake of the severe floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002. List of all EUSF grants
In principle, assistance from the Fund is limited to the financing of emergency operations carried out by the public authorities. Damage suffered by private individuals or losses of income cannot be covered by the Fund.
On 6 October 2011, the Commission published a Communication on the Future of the Solidarity Fund. The amending regulation for the European Solidarity Fund was presented by the Commission today on (25 July.) It will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.