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Clearer and easier rules to apply for the European Solidarity Fund

Date

17 Apr 2014

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs

A new Regulation on the European Solidarity Fund was adopted today by the European Parliament. This reform will make the Fund faster, clearer and easier to use. It will also clarify the rules of access when a smaller disaster occurs, for instance droughts or large storms, and the use of this aid for regional disasters.

Following the devastating floods in central Europe in 2002, the Union created a new instrument, the European Union Solidarity Fund. Since then, the Fund has been mobilised for 52 disasters, covering a series of different catastrophic events such as floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and droughts. 23 European countries have received support so far, with assistance amounting to €3.6 billion.

Spanish MEP Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Rapporteur for the Regulation on behalf of the EPP Group, stressed the importance of this agreement reached by the EU Institutions: "Thanks to this Regulation, the Solidarity Fund will be a more efficient instrument", despite that increased resources for the Fund have not been included. She still considers, however, that the Regulation will clearly benefit citizens.

Estaràs Ferragut said that one of the most important benefits is the possibility, for the first time, of making advance payments once the European Union has verified that there are circumstances to implement the Fund and while the application is being completed by the applicant country. The advanced payment can be up to 10% of the planned contribution, capped at €30m. "The financial advances were very important because efficiency is fundamental when it comes to natural disasters. We have finally been able to solve this matter after many technical difficulties."

The European Commission now has a maximum of six weeks to assess the application. On the other hand, from now on, damaged States will have more time to introduce their applications and one and a half years to execute the Fund. The rules are now clear on the eligibility of regional disasters, with the introduction of a single damage threshold for assistance, equivalent to 1.5% of regional GDP, and 1% for EU outermost regions, such as the Canary Islands.

Rosa Estaràs Ferragut concluded: "It has been clearly specified when a region can or cannot access the Fund so now, when a disaster occurs, regions will know if they have access to the Fund and under what conditions."

 
Note to Editors
 
 
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 274 Members from 27 Member States.
 
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