European Union Solidarity Fund: Midday statement by Johannes HAHN, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy
Lieu: Brussels, Belgium - EC
End production: 25/07/2013 First transmission: 25/07/2013
On 25 July, Johannes Hahn, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy, presented a proposal to reform the EU Solidarity Fund.
The plans, adopted today by the European Commission, will make the fund more responsive and simpler to use with clearer criteria as to who can benefit.
Since its creation in 2002, the Solidarity Fund has responded to 52 disasters across Europe including earthquakes, forest fires, drought, storms and floods. 23 countries have been supported with more than €3.2 billion. If today's proposals are approved by the European Parliament and EU member states, disaster-hit countries and regions can expect significant improvements to the way the Solidarity Fund works.
The new legislative proposal simplifies the existing rules so that aid can be paid out more rapidly than is currently the case. The plans also introduce the possibility of advance payments for the first time. They spell out more clearly who and what will be eligible, particularly for regional disasters. As well as this, the reform encourages Member States to put disaster prevention and risk management strategies higher on the agenda. The principles of the Fund are unchanged as is the way it is financed, outside the normal EU budget.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior of the EC building
||General view of press conference
||SOUNDBITE (in English) Johannes Hahn, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy: The Solidarity Fund was set up in 2002 after similar floods. Since then, it has responded to 52 disasters across Europe including earthquakes, forest fires, drought, storms and floods. 23 EU countries have been supported with more than €3.2 billion. But the way the fund works needs to be improved. We must be more responsive so that countries and regions get financial support sooner. A shorter administrative process will make it simpler to use and faster because we plan to merge two stages into one approval and implementation agreement. Because the changes will make it simpler, clearer and quicker to get the money from the Solidarity Fund.
||Cutaway of a photographer
||SOUNDBITE (in English) Johannes Hahn: Clearer on how and what is illegible, particularly for a region disaster where we will introduce 1 single criteria. 1.5% of regional GDP will be the threshold. So the region knows if there are eligible and our decision is faster two save time and resources for the most serious cases.
||Cutaway of the audience
||SOUNDBITE (in English) Johannes Hahn: By introducing advanced payments for the first time, we can make the fund respond faster. Advances set a 10 % of anticipated aid but kept at 30 million. This will allow a quicker reaction helping the countries to pay the cost of building regions and communities and to meet cost of emergency operations.
||Cutaway of the audience
||SOUNDBITE (in English) Johannes Hahn: We received last night the application of Germany, the amount there is around 8.2 billions, and if the damage is verified, the scope of the reimbursement will be between 350 and 360 millions. We will make every effort to decide already this year and to pay already this year. Concerning the other countries affected by this flood disaster, we expect their application in the next few days.