Brussels, 10 March 2006 - In the first "preliminary draft amending budget" (PDAB) of the year 2006, adopted today, European Commission proposes to grant EUR 20.4 million to Bulgaria, EUR 71.2 million to Romania and EUR 14.8 million to Austria, to reimburse a part of the public expenditure for emergency operations carried out during devastating floods in spring and summer last year. Since 2002, over EUR 860 million have been mobilised through the European Solidarity Fund to help repair the damage caused by major disasters in the EU and accession countries.
The PDAB n°1 will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. The floods covered by this decision swept through large parts of Bulgaria and Romania in April and May and then again in the July and August of 2005, causing casualties, extensive damage to public and private property, as well as disruptions to public services. The consequences are considered sufficiently severe for the floods to qualify as "major disasters" according to the definition of the Solidarity Fund.
Floods also hit two Austrian regions (Vorarlberg and Tirol) in August 2005. Although less extensive in geographical scope, this flooding seriously damaged infrastructure in a vulnerable alpine area, impacting negatively on local business, in particular on tourism, and rendering reconstruction particularly difficult. On this basis, the Commission considers the flooding as an "extraordinary" regional disaster within the meaning of the Solidarity Fund regulation, opening the right to a grant.
Created by a Council regulation in 2002, following severe flooding, principally in Central Europe, Solidarity Fund is financed outside the budget and can be mobilised up to a maximum of EUR 1 billion a year. "Major" disasters are those where damage amounts to at least 0.6% of GNI or EUR 3 billion (in 2002 prices, whichever is the lower). In those cases, aid intensity corresponds to 2.5% of the damage below the threshold, and rises to 6% above the threshold.
The Preliminary Draft Amending Budget (PDAB) is a formal Commission proposal to modify the EU budget of the current year. Its adoption follows the same pattern as the adoption of the annual budget, namely two consecutive readings in both the Council and Parliament, after which it enters into force.
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