Flood hit regions look towards the EU
The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was established in order to deal with major national disasters. The Solidarity Fund intervenes mainly in cases of major natural disasters with serious repercussions on living conditions, the natural environment or the economy in one or more regions of a Member State or a country applying for accession to the European Union (EU). A natural disaster is considered as 'major' if it results in damage on the State’s territory estimated either at over EUR 3 billion (2002 prices), or at more than 0.6 % of its gross national income. The fund may also be mobilised for “regional” disasters where a region experiences a disaster which affects the majority of its population, with serious and lasting repercussions on living conditions and economic stability. Regions may also receive funds even when the applicable national threshold has not been reached. The funds can be used for the immediate restoration to working order of infrastructure and plant in the fields of energy, drinking water, waste water, telecommunications, transport, health and education; providing temporary accommodation and funding rescue services to meet the immediate needs of the population concerned; fund the immediate securing of preventive infrastructures and measures of immediate protection of the cultural heritage; help with the immediate cleaning up of disaster-stricken areas, including natural zones. Applications from member states are encouraged by the Commission no later than ten weeks after the first damage caused by the disaster. The state affected should submit an application to the Commission for assistance from the Fund. It should provide all possible information on the damage caused by the disaster and its impact on the population and the economy. It must estimate the cost of the foreseen assistance and indicate any other sources of national, European and/or international funding.
Photo: Elliott Brown