"The general approach on the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) adopted by the Permanent Representatives Committee of the Council (COREPER II) misses the chance of making this crucial European solidarity tool more responsive to the actual needs of local and regional authorities that are dealing with natural disasters", said Committee of the Regions (CoR) rapporteur Dr. Pavel Branda (CZ/ECR) commenting on the outcome of the COREPER II meeting held on 13 February.
The EUSF is currently the EU's main tool for responding to major natural disasters in the EU Member States, such as the most recent floods in Czech Republic, France and the United Kingdom. Last November, through an opinion drafted by Dr. Pavel Branda (CZ/ECR), Deputy Mayor of Rádlo, the CoR threw its support behind European Commission proposals to create a clearer definition of disasters by proposing new and simple criteria for defining exceptional regional disasters based on a GDP-related threshold. The introduction of advance payments was also welcomed by the CoR and the European Parliament. However, the COREPER II refused the advanced payment mechanism proposed by the Commission arguing that it would create future budgetary constraints.
"Due to budgetary concerns, the Council has ignored the proposals presented by the Commission and supported both by the Committee of the Regions as well as the European Parliament. This decision by the Council suggests that it wishes to cancel one of the key elements of the Commission's proposal which would make a huge difference in speeding-up economic recovery within the regions who have seriously suffered from natural disasters", said CoR rapporteur Dr. Branda before adding that: "Europe should face a crucial year such as 2014 showing more attention to the difficulties of citizens and with more solidarity. Whilst we should all contribute to restoring confidence in the European project, being unable to react immediately in emergency situations risks enlarging the gap between Brussels and local communities. However, we welcome that COREPER agreed on the Commission's approach to regional disasters that was highlighted in my opinion as being very positive".
With the tripartite negotiations between the Council, Commission and Parliament to take place from 19 February, the CoR hopes the advance payment mechanism will be re-considered and maintained within the final decision.
For more information, please contact:
Branislav Stanicek Tel. +32 2 282 2471
Previous press releases