EP grants €162.4 mln to floods UK
MEPs approve €162.4 million for the UK in EU Solidarity Fund following floods last summer
Brussels, Belgium – The European Parliament adopted reports from the Budgets Committee on the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for an amount of €162.4 million in commitment and payment appropriations, relating to the major storms in the United Kingdom in June and July 2007. The grant will go towards reimbursing part of the cost of emergency measures such as rescue services, cleaning up after flood damage, and restoring basic infrastructure.
Unusually heavy rainfall in June and July 2007 caused disastrous floods in several UK regions, resulting in severe damage to infrastructure, businesses and private households. Direct damage is estimated to amount to over €4.6 billion, the third highest total caused by a natural disaster since the EU Solidarity Fund was launched in 2002. This is the first application from the UK for financial assistance after a major natural disaster.
The report approving the funding from the EU Solidarity Fund was adopted with 613 votes in favour, 11 against and 17 abstentions.
The UK application indicates the regions that were affected by the floods. These are: East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire/Humber, South West England, Wales, Northern Ireland. Projects from all of these regions would be eligible for a share of the funding.
Speaking in the debate in Strasbourg on Monday 10 March 2008: Richard ASHWORTH (South East, Conservative, EPP-ED, UK) said: "Much of this flooding happened in my region, and I can testify to the appalling damage and hardship which it brought on many residents of my area . I am aware that my friend and colleague Reimer Böge said that, of course, in the grand order of things it is not a great deal of money. Perhaps it is not, but as a gesture of solidarity, please believe me that it is well and truly appreciated, and on behalf of the people of that region."
Linda MCCAVAN (Yorkshire and the Humber, Labour, PES, UK) said: "It is a small grant towards covering the huge costs of the damage done by the floods in the UK, but we are appreciative to our colleagues in the Committee on Budgets, who voted unanimously, and also to the Commission. I understand it was the quickest payment ever made: within seven months. Therefore, although many people have been suffering for a long time, it is progress compared with previous funds. We also understand that it is one of the largest payments ever made, and we are appreciative of that."
Diana WALLIS (Yorkshire and the Humber, Liberal Democrat, ALDE, UK) said: "A sum of EUR 162 million: it seems to be uncontentious, but it is hugely important on several levels. As an MEP, I represent the area of Yorkshire and the Humber, hit, as Ms McAvan said, by floods last summer – cities, villages across our region devastated. Many individuals, even in the village down the road from me, are still out of their homes. Whilst we know that this payment may not change their situation overnight, it will go indirectly towards helping by relieving pressure on our Government’s own budget. The British people, my constituents, will now understand that European solidarity has a tangible and practical meaning. And that will apply, I think, to all of us in this House. As climate change does bite, we may all be in the situation of representing those who are victims of such natural disasters and may have, therefore, to lay claim to European solidarity."
John WHITTAKER (North West, UKIP, IND/DEM) said: "I am pleased to know that Britain should receive money to help us with the cost of last year’s floods. We are all very happy that the EU has generously come to the aid of a Member State in difficulty. But it is not quite like that: first, the grant is only 3.5% of the cost of the damage – a gesture, as Mr Ashworth says – and, secondly, it is nine months after the event – and that is fast, they say! It would have been more helpful if we had known it would be forthcoming, and then reconstruction could have been planned accordingly. If there is one thing that gets up the nose of the British – when we realise that we are getting back a little of the cash we have paid into the European Union – is that we are obliged to beg for it and then advertise the EU’s generosity. Please, can we not rather keep our own money and then decide how to spend it ourselves? That way, it could be paid out more quickly."
The amount of damage and the aid proposed by the Commission is summarised as follows:
UK , Floods June/July 2007 DIRECT DAMAGE: €4 612 000 000; AID PROPOSED: €162,387,985