Brussels, 10 December 2007. The European Commission today proposed to grant European Union Solidarity Fund aid totalling € 162.388 million to help deal with damage caused by floods in England, Northern Ireland and Wales in June and July this year. The grant will go towards reimbursing part of the cost of emergency measures such as rescue services, cleaning up after flood damage, and restoring basic infrastructure.
Danuta Hübner, Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy and the Solidarity Fund, conveyed her sympathy to those affected by the disasters: "Today's decision proposing to mobilise the Solidarity Fund is a practical way of demonstrating how the Union can help people hit by severe floods in the UK. The aid will help to offset the financial costs of cleaning up, putting basic infrastructure back in working order, and taking other emergency measures."
Unusually heavy rainfall In June and July 2007 caused disastrous floods in several UK regions, resulting in severe damage to infrastructure, businesses and private households. Direct damage is estimated to amount to over EUR 4.6 billion, the third highest total caused by a natural disaster since the EU Solidarity Fund was launched in 2002. This is the first application from the UK for financial assistance after a major natural disaster.
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To make a grant available to the UK, the Commission will request the Budget Authority (European Parliament and Council) to adopt an Amending Budget. The Commission and the UK will then jointly sign an agreement setting out the conditions for implementing the aid.
The EU Solidarity Fund, created in 2002, grants emergency aid to Member States and acceding countries in the event of a major natural disaster. Its annual allocation amounts to € 1 billion. To qualify for aid under the Solidarity Fund, countries must present an application containing a documented estimate of the damage. This is examined by the Commission in the light of criteria intended to ensure that EU funds are used to meet the most urgent needs.
On 6 April 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal intended to enable the EU Solidarity Fund to cover disasters other than those arising from natural catastrophes (for instance, major industrial accidents), with improved eligibility criteria and delivery mechanisms (see MEMO/05/111). After a largely favourable vote of the European Parliament the proposal is still on the table of the Council.
For more information please consult the following website: http://europa.eu.int/comm/regional_policy/funds/solidar/solid_en.htm