Brussels, 19 June 2008 - The European Commission has made available aid totalling €162.4 million from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to help deal with the consequences of devastating floods that hit regions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales during the summer of 2007.
The UK authorities will use the grant to cover part of the cost of emergency measures such as restoring roads, water infrastructure and schools, securing dams, the cost of temporary accommodation and rescue services, or costs that local authorities incurred as they cleaned up disaster-stricken areas. Mr John Healey MP, UK Minister for Local Government, confirmed in a letter to Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, that the full amount of the grant would be used to finance emergency operations in the affected regions. Commissioner Hübner said: "I am pleased to confirm this Solidarity Fund grant is now available, thus ensuring that the EU played its part in helping people in the UK recover from the effects of disastrous floods last year. I am grateful to Mr Healey for confirming that the full €162 million will go into eligible operations. The UK can of course use the grant retroactively for operations it launched from the very beginning of the floods."
The UK authorities decide how to distribute the grant among regions affected and what operations are selected. The funding has to be spent within a year, and a report on how it was used, accounting for the total amount spent, is due within 18 months at the latest after payment of the grant.
In June and July 2007, several parts of the UK were affected by major floods, causing severe damage to infrastructure, businesses and private households. Damage was estimated to amount to over €4.6 billion. The UK government applied for a grant from the Solidarity Fund to help with costs of recovery. The Commission proposed making a grant in December 2007 (IP/07/1885).
Now the European Parliament and the Council have made the necessary budgetary appropriations available to grant €162.388 million to the UK, allowing the support to be released. This procedure is needed because Solidarity Fund grants are over and above the normal EU budget.
The EU Solidarity Fund, created in 2002, grants 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 established by the Solidarity Fund Regulation. To make credits available, the Commission has to request the Budget Authority (European Parliament and Council) to adopt an Amending Budget. The conditions for implementing the aid by the beneficiary country are then laid down in an agreement between the Commission and the applicant country.
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