EU Solidarity Fund
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission moves to help Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria after May's major floods
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has today announced an aid package worth nearly €80 million proposed by the European Commission for Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria after flooding disasters struck the countries in May and June 2014.
The proposed aid of €60.2m to Serbia, €8.96m to Croatia and €10.5m to Bulgaria is to help cover part of the emergency costs incurred by the public authorities in these three countries due to the disasters. In particular, it will help to restore vital infrastructure and services, reimburse the cost of emergency and rescue operations, and help cover some of the clean-up costs in the disaster-stricken regions.
Serbia, which is currently in negotiations to join the EU - and therefore eligible for the Fund - suffered the worst of the damage. The floods most severely hit the districts of Kolubara, Mačva, Moravcki, Pomoravlje, and part of Belgrade, with detrimental effects for some 1.6 million inhabitants. Essential power links were damaged, while drinking water suffers on-going pollution.
Commissioner Hahn, who oversees the Fund and signed today’s proposal, said "This decision reflects the very nature of this Fund, which is solidarity with our fellow Member States and those counties negotiating accession in their time of need after natural disasters. The European Solidarity Fund helps these countries get back on their feet and regain stability which is threatened by the severe damage to economic sectors such as tourism, or destruction of essential infrastructure. This proposed support will help Serbia, Bulgaria and Croatia to recover from the terrible flooding earlier this year and it will help to reimburse rescue and clean-up costs in the affected regions."
He added: “These amounts are specific and targeted to help address the immediate and direct impact of natural disasters. We have now approved these grants at the Commission. We also reformed the EU Solidarity Fund rules which entered into force on 28 June 2014 and simplified the existing system and criteria so that aid can be paid out more rapidly than before. Now we trust member states will also show solidarity and stand by their commitments in swiftly agreeing the funds set aside for this purpose."
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 63 disasters covering a range of different catastrophic events including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought. 24 different European countries have been supported so far for an amount of over 3.7 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)
- How much money can you expect?
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