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MEMO/06/153

Brussels, 4 April 2006

The new Solidarity Fund

The new proposal is based on the current Solidarity Fund. Its main features compared with the current EUSF are the following:

  • Thematic scope: major crisis situations resulting from natural disasters (as before) plus (new) industrial/technological disasters, public health emergencies and acts of terrorism
  • Geographical scope: Member States and countries negotiating accession (no change)
  • Definition of “major” disaster: new double approach

1. as today, total direct damage in excess of an absolute or a relative threshold, which ever is the lower. It is proposed to lower these from € 3 bn/0.6% of GNI to € 1 billion or 0.5% of GNI. The revision of the threshold, which substantially widens the eligibility of disasters, makes the continuation of the exception for regional disasters void, as all disasters requiring an act of European solidarity would now fall within the normal scope. This element should be a safeguard for the EUSF to remain an instrument for major disasters, whereas regional or local disasters can be addressed directly by the states concerned, in conformity with the subsidiarity principle.

2. introduction of a new criterion based on political considerations: any major disaster situation declared as such by the Commission. This mechanism should be used only for truly unexpected and exceptional situations, where physical damage alone is not an appropriate criterion, for example where physical damage is (still) limited such as terrorist attacks or major public health threats.

Exceptional mobilisation/regional disasters:

With the lowering of the normal mobilisation threshold as proposed, the need for exceptional mobilisation of the Fund no longer exists as all disasters requiring European solidarity would be covered by the normal criteria. For truly unexpected and exceptional situations the political criterion would still offer a possibility to mobilise the Fund.

Immediate solidarity: the proposal foresees (new) the possibility to make a rapid down payment in the event of a crisis. This down payment would be treated as an advance on the assistance to be granted once the assessment and budgetary procedure are completed. In the event that the application is not accepted the advance would have to be repaid to the Commission.

Mobilisation following request of an eligible state: Commission assessment, proposal to the budget authority, adoption of a corresponding budget, grant decision, implementation agreement. No substantial change but introduction of safeguards/deadlines to allow speedier payment of the grant.

Eligible operations: limited to public emergency operations as before but extended to include assistance to victims of terrorism, medical assistance in case of health crises and measures to protect the natural heritage.

Technical assistance: in order to pay for expertise to help assess applications a certain amount of money would be required, the lack of which poses problems today.

• The legal drafting of the new proposal has been reviewed and also contains a number of clearer provisions on financial control, etc.

E-link to Solidarity Fund website:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/funds/solidar/solid_fr.htm

Proposal for a new Solidarity Fund –Synopsis of main features


Current Solidarity Fund
New proposal
Entry into force
November 2002
January 2007
Geographical scope
Member States and candidate countries after formal opening of accession negotiations
no change
Application deadline
10 weeks after first damage
no change
Applicant
national government only
no change
Thematic scope
“mainly” major natural disasters
(health treats and terrorism excluded)
major disasters resulting from
- natural disasters
- industrial and technological disasters
- public health emergencies
- acts of terrorism
Eligibility criteria
  1. total direct damage above threshold
  2. neighbouring country
  3. exceptional mobilisation for extraordinary regional disasters
  1. total direct damage above threshold
  2. neighbouring country
  3. political criterion
(no regional disasters)
Threshold
(to be met per applicant state)
In relation to above:
  1. total direct damage above € 3 bn or 0.6% of GNI, whichever is the lower
  2. no threshold if major disaster in neighbouring country recognised
  3. major part of population affected, lasting repercussions on living conditions and economic stability of affected region
In relation to above:
  1. total direct damage above € 1 bn or 0.5% of GNI, whichever is the lower
  2. no threshold if major disaster in neighbouring country recognised
  3. political decision of the Commission: for cases where damage is inappropriate criterion (health threats, terrorism)
Eligible operations
Emergency operations
- to restore to working order basic infrastructures
- to secure protective infrastructure
- pay for emergency services and provisional housing,
- for protection of cultural heritage
- cleaning up
No compensation of private damage
As now, plus
- medical, psychological and social assistance to the direct victims of acts of terrorism and their families
- protection of the population against imminent health threats, including the replacement of vaccine, drugs, medical products and medical equipment used up during an emergency
Implementation period
1 year following payment of grant
18 months from first damage
Budgetary procedure
Full budgetary procedure involving EP and Council following a Commission proposal for an amending budget in each case
no change
Advance payments
not possible
upon request of applicant state: 5% of the estimated cost of eligible operations, maximum € 5 million
to be made available rapidly through internal budget transfer
Payment of grant
100% up front upon conclusion of the implementation agreement with beneficiary state, no co-financing obligation
no change
Implementation
Under full responsibility of beneficiary state
Minimum requirements on monitoring and reporting
Final report 6 months after end of grant
no change
Technical assistance
not available
up to € 2 million/year for external expertise
Annual amount
€ 1 billion (not “budgetised”)
no change

EU Solidarity Fund Applications since 2002

(last update 6/4/06) DG REGIO
Year
Country
Nature of the disaster
Damage
(million €)[1]
Category[1]
Aid granted
(million €)
2
0
0
2
1
AT
Flooding
2 900
major
134
2
CZ
Flooding
2 300
major
129
3
FR
Flooding (Le Gard)
835
regional
21
4
DE
Flooding
9 100
major
444
Total aid 2002


728
2
0
0
3
1
ES
Oil spill (Prestige)
436
regional
8.626
2
IT
Earthquake (Molise/Apulia)
1 558
regional
30.826
3
IT
Volcanic eruption (Etna)
894
regional
16.798
4
IT
Flooding (North Italy)
1 900
(major)
Rejected
5
GR
Adverse winter weather
not clear
(major)
Rejected
6
PT
Forest fires
1 228
major
48.539
7
FR
Forest fires (Southern France)
531
(regional)
Rejected
8
ES
Forest fires (Portuguese border)
53
neighbouring country
1.331
9
MT
Flooding
30
major
0.961
10
IT
Flooding (Friuli Venezia-Giulia)
525
regional
Rejected
Total aid 2003


107.081
2
0
0
4
1
FR
Flooding (Rhone delta)
785
regional
19.625
2
ES
Flooding (Malaga)
73
(regional)
Rejected
3-9
ES
Forest fires (7 applications)
(480)
(regional)
all 7 rejected
10
SK
Flooding
29
(regional)
Rejected
11
SI
Earthquake
13
(regional)
withdrawn
Total aid 2004


19.625


Year
Country
Nature of the disaster
Damage
(million €)
Category
Aid granted
(million €)
2
0
0
5
1
SK
Storm (Tatras)
202.733
major
5.668
2
IT
Flooding (Sardinia)
(223, over-estimated)
(regional)
Rejected
3
EE
Storm
47.868
major
1.29
4
LV
Storm
192.590
major
9.487
5
SE
Storm
2297.313
major
81.725
6
LT
Storm
15.156
neighbouring country
0.379
7
EL
Evros flooding
(112)
(regional)
Rejected
8
RO
Spring flooding
489
major
18.798
approved[2]
9
BG
Spring flooding
222
major
9.722
approved
10
BG
Summer flooding
237
major
10.632
approved
11
RO
Summer flooding
1050
major
52.4
approved
12
AT
Flooding (Tyrol/Vorarlberg)
592
regional
14.799
approved
Total aid 2005


5.668
(204.9)
2
0
0
6
1
UK
Buncefield oil depot explosion
(700)
(regional)
withdrawn












Total aid 2006


0
Grand total of aid granted since 2002

€ 860.374 million
(€ 1 059.6 million)[3]

Statistical overview

Total n° of applications received since 2002
of which major disasters
regional disasters
“neighbouring country” criterion
38
15
21
2

40 % of all applications
55 % “
5 % “
Applications accepted by COM
of which major disasters
of which regional disasters
of which neighbouring country criterion
Applications rejected by COM
of which major disasters
of which regional disasters
Applications withdrawn
Decision pending
21
13
6
2
15
2
13
2
0
55 % of all applications
87 % of “major disaster” applications
29% of “regional disaster” applications

40 % of all applications
13% of “major disaster” applications
62% of “regional disaster” applications
5 % of all applications
0 %


[]
[1] Data in italics is subject to verification/confirmation by the Commission
[2] Approved: positive decision in principle, budget available, waiting for conclusion of implementation agreement
[3] Including amounts waiting to be paid out in 2006 for applications from 2005


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