Today the Commission has proposed aid for Greece worth €1.65 million from the EU Solidarity Fund, following the earthquake in the Ionian Islands in November 2015.
On 17 November 2015, an earthquake reaching 6.1 on the Richter scale and several aftershocks struck the island of Lefkada and the northern parts of the islands of Ithaki and Kefalonia. This disaster severely impacted roads, ports, public buildings, homes, cultural sites and touristic areas.
The aid will help restore infrastructure, reimburse the cost of emergency measures and cover some of the clean-up operations.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "The EU Solidarity Fund is one of our strongest symbols of solidarity in times of need. The financial aid will help communities in the Ionian Islands get back on their feet. It will help us rebuild, together, and will revitalise the economic activity in the islands, especially in the tourism sector."
This proposed aid now has to be approved by the European Parliament and Council.
The EU Solidarity Fund was set up to support EU Member States and Accession Countries by offering financial support after natural disasters, either at national or regional level. The Fund was created in the wake of the severe floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002. It supplements Member States' public expenditure to finance essential emergency operations undertaken by the authorities. Examples include:
- Restoration to working order of essential infrastructure e.g. energy, water, transport, telecoms, health and education;
- Temporary accommodation and emergency services to meet the immediate needs of the population;
- Securing of prevention infrastructures such as dams and dykes;
- Measures to protect cultural heritage;
- Clean-up operations
The annual allocation available for the EU Solidarity Fund in 2016 is €552 million. Adding the remainder of the allocation from last year, the total amount of the Solidarity Fund available during 2016 is over €1 billion.
The financial contribution from the Fund is calculated based on the total direct damage resulting from a disaster in relation to the wealth of the affected Member State or region. This financial assistance may only be used for essential emergency and recovery operations.
In April the Commission paid a 10% advance to Greece on the expected aid using a new provision introduced in 2015 with the revision of the EU Solidarity Fund Regulation.