Brussels, 1 December 2006 - The European Commission today proposed to grant aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) totalling € 15.06 million to help to deal with the consequences of the flood disaster that severely hit Hungary earlier this year. The money will be used to reimburse a part of the cost of emergency measures such as rescue services, the cleaning up of disaster stricken areas and the restoration of basic infrastructures to working condition.
The severe floods along the Danube and Tisza rivers in Hungary, which continued for several weeks during April and May this year, were caused by unusually high quantities of quickly melting snow and intensive rainfall adding to the already unusually high levels of water coming from Austria on the Danube. The flood disaster caused casualties, extensive damage to public and private property, as well as disruptions to public services. Total direct damage is estimated at around € 519 million.
Danuta Hübner, Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy and the Solidarity Fund, conveyed her sympathy to all the citizens affected by the disasters. She said: "Today's decision to propose to mobilise the Fund expresses the Union's financial solidarity with the people affected by the severe floods this spring. The aid will help to offset the financial costs incurred in cleaning-up the disaster stricken areas, restoring basic infrastructures and in taking other emergency measures".
Furthermore, the Commissioner underscored the importance of the Solidarity Fund and called on the Council for the "acceleration of the discussions of the revised instrument, which aims at responding more effectively to disasters of different nature".
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 provide a documented estimate of the damage which is examined by the Commission in the light of specific criteria, which are intended to ensure that EU funds are used to meet the most urgent needs.
In order to make the credits available, the Commission is now requesting the Budget Authority (European Parliament and Council) to adopt an Amending Budget. The conditions for implementing the aid by the beneficiary country will then be laid down in an agreement between the Commission and the beneficiary country.
On 6 April 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal for the new and improved EU Solidarity Fund (for 2007-2013), which would cover disasters other than those arising from natural catastrophes and 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