In the wake of a number of natural disasters in 2018, the European Commission has proposed €293.5 million be released under the EU Solidarity Fund.
The fund was established in 2002 after a summer of severe flooding in Central Europe; and has provided financial assistance totalling €5.2 billion to 24 Member States. The funding will be directed to the following countries:
- Italy will receive €277.2 million after experiencing extreme weather during autumn 2018, including heavy rainfall, strong winds, floods and landslides;
- Austria will receive €8.1 million after similar weather phenomena in 2018; and
- The northeast region of Romania will receive €8.2 million after severe flooding in the summer of 2018.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “Last week in Sibiu we committed to stay united, through thick and thin, to show each other solidarity in times of need and to always stand together. The EU Solidarity Fund is a concrete expression of European solidarity. It offers relief to countries and regions after natural disasters and helps populations get back on their feet. Today we are lending a helping hand to Austria, Italy and Romania and reflecting on how to make the EU Solidarity Fund an even more helpful tool in the next long-term EU budget.”
In addition to its EU Solidarity Fund 2019 proposals, the Commission released an evaluation of the fund’s work since its inception and issued a series of proposals to streamline future funding endeavours. The evaluation commended the work done through the fund so far, but noted that there remained room for improvement, including:
- The speed with which funds are released, while it has improved since 2002, is still slower than ideal.
- The Commission recommended greater investment in coordination between the EU’s various emergency funding mechanisms, with particular reference to the Cohesion Policy.
- The evaluation also recommended improved guidance on the distribution of funding, to ensure it is used in the most effective ways.