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Reforming the European Union Solidarity Fund

The EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was created in 2001 to enable the European Union (EU) to respond to major disasters (floods, earthquakes, severe droughts…) inside the EU and in countries involved in accession negotiations. Major disasters would be those causing damage estimated either at over EUR 3 000 000 000 in 2011 prices, or more than 0,6 % of its gross national income (GNI). Whilst this fund mostly achieves its objectives, it has been criticised for its responsiveness, ease of use and unclear criteria.

Reforming the European Union Solidarity Fund

Picture by UK Ministry of Defence (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The new outlines of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) were approved by Coreper on Tuesday 12 March. The new provisions are based on proposals tabled by the Commission in July 2013. The principles of the Fund are unchanged as is the way it is financed, outside the normal EU budget.

The advance payments mechanism proposed by the European Commission was the main point dividing the tripartite negotiations between the Council, Commission and Parliament. The eligibility threshold of 1.5 per cent of regional GDP, the period for requesting aid and the period allowed for using these funds were also points of debate.

Some key changes are that Member States or accession countries with flood, drought or earthquake-hit regions will be able to request support from EU if the damage caused exceeds 1.5 per cent of the GDP of the region; extremely remote regions will enjoy an exemption threshold of 1 per cent. Also aid application dossiers must be submitted within 12 weeks following the disaster and the Commission must respond within the following six weeks. Finally the advance payments system proposed by the Commission has been kept in place for payments of up to 50 million. In general terms, requests for intervention will be simplified so that aid can be paid out more rapidly.

EUSF also gets a new preventive aspect. The Commission will be able to reject applications or reduce its interventions if the country requesting aid has already benefited from the Fund but not set in place EU rules to prevent and manage risks.

The European Parliament is voting on the new regulation at its April plenary session.

See also: The European Union Solidarity Fund / Library Navigator by Alexandru Folescu , Alec Vuijlsteke , Sorina Silvia Ionescu, 7 May 2012. (EP internal link)

Overviews

Reforming the European Union Solidarity Fund: improving its solidarity, robustness and efficiency from a risk-based perspective / Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler, Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer, International Institute for Applied Syatems Analysis, 2014, 2 p.

The European Union Solidarity Fund / European Parliament Factsheets, November 2013

The future of the European Union Solidarity Fund / Alessandro d’Alfonso, Briefing, January 2013.

Over 11 years, the EU Solidarity Fund has helped countries hit by major natural disasters. But its functioning has shown room for some improvement. Parliament will discuss possible adjustments for the future of the Fund. This is an abridged version of a briefing first published in November 2012.

The European Union Solidarity Fund: Questions and answers / European Commission, 25 July 2013, MEMO/13/723

EU Solidarity Fund / DG Regional Policy.

In this website it is explained how to apply to this fund, to which cases applyes, budget allocated and what actions are concerned.

Analysis

Increasing stress on disaster-risk finance due to large floods / Brenden Jongman et al. In: Nature Climate Change, vol.4, (2014) pp. 264–268, Published online 02 March 2014

Recent major flood disasters have shown that single extreme events can affect multiple countries simultaneously, which puts high pressure on trans-national risk reduction and risk transfer mechanisms. Authors suggest that risk management for these increasing losses is largely feasible, and they demonstrate that risk can be shared by expanding risk transfer financing, reduced by investing in flood protection, or absorbed by enhanced solidarity between countries. They conclude that these measures have vastly different efficiency, equity and acceptability implications, which need to be taken into account in broader consultation, for which our analysis provides a basis.

List of interventions from November 2002 to October 2013.

Aid to make good the damage caused by natural disasters (Article 107(2)(b) TFEU) – Checklist for Member States / European Commission, October 2013

This checklist is not mandatory, but Member States may use it as guidance to prepare notifications of aid to make good the damage caused by natural disasters

European Union Solidarity Fund / Alessandro d’Alfonso, Library Briefing, November 2012

In cases of major natural disasters, the European Union Solidarity Fund can finance part of the emergency operations. The Parliament and the Council are now deciding on aid of €670 million for the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, hit by two severe earthquakes in May this year. A debate on the future of the Fund is also ongoing.

European Union Solidarity Fund Annual reports / European Commission.

Includes Annual reports from 2002 to 2012.

The European Union Solidarity Fund / Stefan Hochrainer, Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer, Reinhard Mechler. In: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, October 2010, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 797-810.

This paper examines the legitimacy, viability and efficiency of the European Union Solidarity Fund by asking whether the Fund meets its stated purpose of providing solidarity within the EU, whether it is sufficiently capitalized and if it promotes disaster risk reduction in Europe.

Stakeholder views

European Parliament

EU Solidarity Fund: technical adjustments / European Parliament 2013/0248(COD)

Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund: flooding in Slovenia, Croatia and Austria in 2012 / 2013/2085(BUD)

Amending budget 5/2013: mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for Slovenia, Croatia and Austria / 2013/2086(BUD)

Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund: earthquakes in Italy in 2012 / 2012/2237(BUD)

European Solidarity Fund, implementation and application / 2012/2075(INI)

Amending budget 2/2012: mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for Italy / 2012/2057(BUD)

Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund: flooding in Italy in 2011 / 2012/2051(BUD)

European Commission

Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) COM(2013) 0522, 25 July 2013, 32 p.

Proposal of 25 July 2013 amending the Solidarity Fund Regulation.

Making the EU Solidarity Fund faster and simpler for support after disasters – Press release / European Commission, 25 July 2013, IP/13/732

The Future of the European Union Solidarity Fund: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions / European Commission, COM(2011) 613 final, 6 November 2011, 21 p.

Committee of the Regions

EU Solidarity Fund: Council risks missing chance to make it more efficient / Committee of the Regions, Press release, 17/02/2014

Opinion of the CoR on the European Union Solidarity Fund, CDR 6402/2013

European Economic and Social Committee

The future of the European Union Solidarity Fund COM(2011) 613 final, OJ C 181, 21.6.2012, p. 52–54

Council of the European Union

Compromise text for Permanent Representatives Committee / Council of the European Union, 10 February 2014, 17 p.

Council gives green light to new rules for EU solidarity fund / Council of the European Union, Press release 7547/14, 12 March 2014

European Court of Auditors

The European Union Solidarity Fund’s response to the 2009 Abruzzi earthquake : the relevance and cost of operations. Special Report No 24, 2012 / EU, European Court of Auditors.

A special report of the Court of Auditors in 2012 dealt with the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake in the Abruzzo region of Italy. This was the most serious natural disaster that the Solidarity Fund has had to deal with since it was created. The assistance provided totalled over EUR 500 million. The report found that, with the exception of one particularly complex project (CASE), all financed projects complied with the regulation.

The European Union Solidarity Fund: how rapid, efficient and flexible is it? – Together with the Commission’s replies / European Court of Auditors, Special Report No 3/2008, 16 p.

Related legislative procedure(s)

Decisions on mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (Eur-lex search)

Discussion

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