EU Solidarity Fund
Revised EU Solidarity Fund Regulation in force
The revised EU Solidarity Fund Regulation entered into force on 28 June and simplifies the existing rules so that aid can be paid out more rapidly than before. The use of advance payments will be become possible for the first time for Member States from 2015.
- To clarify the scope of the Solidarity Fund limiting it to natural disasters and extending it to drought.
- Clearer rules on eligibility for regional disasters, introducing one single damage threshold for aid - 1.5% of regional GDP at NUTS2 level
- Special threshold for outermost regions: 1% of regional GDP
- Possibility of advance payments for the first time: 10% of anticipated contribution, capped at €30 million
- Shorter administrative procedure by merging two stages of approval and implementation into one agreement
- Introduction of measures to encourage disaster risk prevention strategies: reporting requirements and possible conditions for aid.
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission welcomes Parliament’s approval of a faster and simpler response to disasters
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has welcomed the European Parliament's vote today to endorse reform of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), strengthening the EU’s response to natural disasters across European regions.
Commenting on the vote, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "I welcome the European Parliament’s approval of a system that will work better and respond faster to help citizens affected by natural disasters. This is solidarity in action, sending a clear political signal, as well as genuine assistance, to rebuild and recover after economic and social damage to a region.”
The new rules which still need formal approval by the Council foresee a longer aid application deadline; a faster response time; a possibility of advance payments, and clearer criteria for “regional”, disasters - allowing the Commission to assess applications more quickly.
Since its creation in 2002, the Solidarity Fund has responded to 56 disasters across Europe including earthquakes, forest fires, drought, storms and floods. 23 countries have been supported with more than €3.6 billion.
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission moves to help Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Romania after flood and drought disasters
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has today announced a proposal by the European Commission to allocate more than 360 million EUR to Germany in response to the serious flooding in late spring, May and June of this year.
Neighbouring countries Austria and the Czech Republic who suffered lesser damages as a direct result of the floods will benefit from 21.6 million EUR and 15.9 million EUR respectively. In addition, Romania will receive more than 2.4 million EUR to help meet the costs for damage caused by the drought and forest fires in the summer of 2012.
The support, under the European Solidarity Fund, still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Providing it is, it will help to contribute to the emergency costs incurred by the public authorities in these four member states because of the disasters. In response to the emergency, in particular, it will help to restore essential infrastructure and services, reimburse funding emergency and rescue operations as well as meeting some of the costs of cleaning-up of the disaster- stricken regions including the natural zones.
Commissioner Hahn, who oversees the Fund and signed today’s proposal, said "This decision shows how Europe can act to help fellow countries and regions get back on their feet after natural disasters. The European Solidarity Fund exists to give support to those countries when help is needed most to regain in getting back economic stability after natural disasters. The amount of funding proposed will enable Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Romania to recover and provide normal living conditions for the citizens in the affected regions."
EU Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, responsible for Financial Programming and Budget, stated: "Last July I promised the people in areas affected by the floods that the EU budget would come to their help as quickly and effectively as possible. Today, we deliver: we propose to amend the 2013 EU budget in order to provide help, and I will do all I can to ensure Member States and the European Parliament swiftly approve our proposal."
In May and June 2013, much of Central Europe was affected by extreme flooding in many areas: causing damages to houses, infrastructure, and services. Though the floods were more severe and more extensive, overall damage was less than that of the floods in 2002, particularly in Austria and the Czech Republic. This is partly due to the effectiveness of flood protection and risk control measures being introduced since 2002, but more efforts are required in the future.
During the summer of 2012, major parts of Romania suffered from extremely high temperatures leading to drought. This led to with important crop failure, numerous forest and vegetation fires, and severe shortage of water for the people.
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. Since then, it has been used for 60 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 over 3.6 billion €. Click for a list of all interventions
How to apply?
Any application has to be received by the Commission within 12 weeks of the date of the first damage caused by the disaster.
It is strongly recommended that the body responsible for preparing an application establishes early direct contact with the service in charge in DG Regional Policy who can offer a range of advice that will help to speed up the application procedure as much as possible.
This page is updated regularly, please download the latest version of the application form.
- Application form (Last update: 11-07-2014)
- Guidance note (Last update: 11-07-2014)
- Thresholds for major disasters
- Thresholds for regional disasters
- How to determine the threshold for disasters affecting several regions (based on weighted average GDP)
The Commission assesses the application and - if the application is accepted - proposes an amount of aid to the European Parliament and the Council who have to approve it before it can be paid out. Once the appropriations become available in the EU budget the Commission adopts a decision awarding the aid to the affected State following which the aid is paid out immediately and in a single instalment. Once the aid is paid out, the affected State is responsible for the implementation including the selection of operations and their audit and control. Emergency measures may be financed retroactively from day one of the disaster.
It is worth noting that the EUSF is not a rapid response instrument for dealing with the effects of a natural disaster. Financial aid can only be granted to the applying State following an application and budgetary process which can take several months to complete.
DG Regional and Urban Policy
phone: +32 2 296 65 15
phone: +32 2 298 10 68
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In what cases does the EUSF assist?
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 2011 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 as an eligible country for which a major disaster has been recognised can also receive aid, even if the amount of damage does not reach the threshold.
The Fund can also be mobilised in the event of a regional disaster.
With what budget?
Solidarity Fund aid can be mobilised up to a maximum annual total of € 500 million (in 2011 prices) plus the unspent allocation from the preceding year which is raised over and above the normal EU budget. Individual grants have to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council following a proposal from the Commission. 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.
For what actions?
The EUSF supplements Member States' public expenditure for the following essential emergency operations:
- Immediate restoration to working order of infrastructure and plant in the fields of energy, drinking water, waste water, transport, telecommunications, health and education
- Providing temporary accommodation and emergency services to meet the immediate needs of the population;
- Immediate securing of prevention infrastructures and measures to protect the cultural heritage;
- Cleaning up of disaster-stricken areas, including natural zones.
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. Long-term action – such as lasting reconstruction, economic redevelopment and prevention – are not eligible for EUSF aid. It could, however, qualify for aid under other instruments, most notably the Structural Funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Austria - Flooding of August 2005 (regional disaster)
In August 2005, heavy flooding occurred in parts of two Austrian Länder Vorarlberg and Tyrol. The flooding caused severe damage to the agricultural sector, to tourism, residential properties and businesses, to the transport network and other infrastructure. The total direct damage was estimated at EUR 591.94 million which represents approximately 0.27 % of Austria's GNI. Since the figure is lower than the applicable threshold for mobilising the Solidarity Fund for major disasters (0.6 % of Austria's GNI, i.e. EUR 1.3363 billion), the application was therefore examined under exceptional criteria for so-called extraordinary regional disasters. The Commission came to the conclusion that the application provided sufficient evidence to allow exceptionally mobilising the Solidarity Fund and to grant financial aid amounting to EUR 14.79 million. The aid was used for:
- the immediate restoration to working order of infrastructure, in particular in restoration of state roads. Total EUSF contribution: EUR 9.86 million.
- the immediate securing of preventive infrastructures, in particular of restoration of damaged embankments of water courses, including the removal of trees and rubble, damming, stabilisation and restoration of river beds. Total EUSF contribution: EUR 4.93 million.
- Revised EU Solidarity Fund Regulation
- Question and answer : MEMO/13/723
- Regulation setting up the EUSF (Regulation (EC) n° 2012/2002 of the Council of 11 November 2002, OJ L 311)
- Panorama 49: EU Solidarity Fund reform: disaster relief to be streamlined
- Panorama 47: EU disaster support to be faster and simpler