© picture: Reuters / David W. Cerny
Natural hazards hit-regions will get EU aid much faster under the new EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF).
On 16 April 2014, the European Parliament approved the reform of the EUSF. Agreed informally with the EU Ministers this reform extends the deadline for applying for natural disaster aid from 10 to 12 weeks, enforces a 10% payment of the aid in advance, and simplifies aid approval criteria for smaller, “regional” disasters.
Following the severe floods in Central Europe that occurred in 2002, the EUSF was set up. Since then, it has been mobilised for 56 hazards including floods, storms, forest fires, earthquakes and drought. So far, 23 countries have received aid from the fund for an amount of € 3.6 billion. Today, it accounts for €500 million for the next seven years (2014-2020).
Clearer and simpler rules
The EUSF focuses on major hazards, causing damage in excess of either €3 billion in 2011 prices or 0.6% of the affected country’s gross national income. Support is also available for more limited “regional” disasters. Among others, the new rules stipulates a simple single eligibility criterion – a damage threshold of 1.5% of the region’s gross domestic product – which will make it easier for the European Commission to assess applications and speed up aid payments.
Extended deadlines, faster procedures
Above all, the European Parliament extended the deadline for application. Disaster-stricken states and regions now have 12 weeks to submit their aid application whilst the previous EUSF was offering a 10 weeks period. The use of the budget has also been extended over the time. Benefiting countries will now have 18 months to use fund’s contribution compare to a one year period under the previous rules.
The European Commission has now a limit of 6 weeks after receiving the application to assess its relevance and check whether the conditions for mobilising the EUSF are met and determine the amount of the financial help.
With this new reform, hazards hit-regions should get a much more faster aid to overcome the downside effects of disasters.
The European Parliament press release is available online.