The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up to respond to major natural disasters and express European solidarity to disaster-stricken regions within Europe. The Fund was created as a reaction to the severe floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002. Nine years later, it has been used for 45 disasters covering a range of different catastrophic events including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought. 23 different European countries have been supported so far for an amount of more than 2.4 billion euros.
It is strongly recommended that the body responsible for preparing an application establishes direct contact with the service in charge in DG Regional Policy in order to speed up the procedure as much as possible.
DG Regional Policy
phone: +32 2 296 65 15
phone: +32 2 298 10 68
The EUSF can provide financial aid to Member States and countries engaged in accession negotiations in the event of a major natural disaster if total direct damage caused by the disaster exceeds €3 billion (at 2002 prices) or 0.6% of the country's gross national income, whichever is the lower. A neighbouring Member State or accession country that is affected by the same disaster can also receive aid, even if the amount of damage does not reach the threshold.
Exceptionally, the Fund can also be mobilised in the event of an extraordinary regional disaster that affects the majority of the population of a region and has serious and lasting effects on its economic stability and living conditions. These cases are assessed by the Commission on a case-by-case basis.
The EUSF has an annual budget of € 1 billion. One quarter of this amount must remain available on 1 October of every year to meet possible needs through to the end of the year. In exceptional cases and if the resources remaining for the rest of the year are insufficient, the shortfall may be met out of the next year's budget. The amount available annually for extraordinary regional disasters is 7.5% of the EUSF's annual budget (or € 75 million).
The EUSF supplements public expenditure by the Member States concerned for the following essential emergency operations:
The EUSF was not set up with the aim of meeting all the costs linked to natural disasters. The Fund is limited in principle to non-insurable damage and does not compensate for private losses, for example. Also, long-term action – lasting reconstruction, economic redevelopment, prevention – can qualify for aid under other instruments, most notably the Structural Funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Any application has to be received in the Commission within 10 weeks after the first damage. The Commission assesses the application and decides whether to propose to the budgetary authority (European Parliament and Council) to activate the EUSF together with the amount of any aid considered appropriate. Once the funds become available, the aid is paid immediately and in a single instalment after the signing of an agreement between the Commission and the beneficiary State. Once the grant is paid out, the affected State can re-finance emergency measures from day one of the disaster.
The beneficiary State is responsible for using the grant and any coordination between the EUSF and other sources of funding. The Commission must be reimbursed any sums not used after one year.
Proposal for regulation
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