EU Solidarity Fund: supporting disaster recovery 2002-2020
“The EU Solidarity Fund is one of the most concrete expressions of EU solidarity. It provides longer-term financial support to Member States hit by natural disasters and brings relief to citizens and regions suffering from the consequences. It also reminds us about the importance of investing in prevention and climate mitigation, in line with the priorities of the European Green Deal.”- Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira
As part of the EU coordinated package responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund was extended by a modifying regulation adopted on 1 April 2020. The amendment includes public health crises within the scope of the EUSF, to allow its mobilisation, if needed, for the hardest hit Member States.
After adoption up to EUR 800 million from the EUSF is now available in 2020. That amendment was part of the overall package proposed by the Commission to tackle the effects of the coronavirus crisis, also known as Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII).
1. Which countries have been supported?
Between 2002 and 2020, the EUSF mobilised a total of over EUR 5.5 billion
for interventions in 93 disaster events in 23 Member States and 1 accession
country. Italy is by far the biggest beneficiary of the Fund with more than 3 billion received so far. Serbia is the only country that has been supported by the EUSF outside of the EU.
- €211.7 million for Italy, which was affected by extreme weather events from north to south in late October and November 2019, causing severe damage from flooding and landslides and culminating in the flooding of Venice.
- €56.7 million for Spain after the floods in the regions of Valencia, Murcia, Castilla-La Mancha and Andalucía in September 2019. Spain received €5.6 million in an advanced payment.
- €8.2 million for Portugal following the severe damage that Hurricane Lorenzo inflicted on public and private infrastructures and on the daily lives of people, businesses and institutions in October 2019. Portugal already received €821 thousand in an advanced payment.
- €2.3 million for Austria following the extreme weather events of November 2019. The south-western parts of Austria suffered from severe flooding, in particular in Carinthia and Eastern Tyrol.
In August 2020, the Commission has decided to award a first disbursement of financial aid worth €88.9 million under to Croatia, following the devastating earthquake that hit the city of Zagreb and its surroundings on 22 March 2020. This comes as a contribution to the country's efforts to assist the population, restore essential infrastructures and services. This is the highest amount ever paid out as an advance payment and follows the recent modification raising the maximum from EUR 30 million to EUR 100 million.
2. What types of disasters have been supported?
The EUSF is designed to intervene to support the recovery effort in the aftermath of natural disasters. The graph below shows a snapshot of the types of disasters that have occurred in the period considered. Flooding is by large the most frequently occurring disaster affecting European countries, followed by storm and other adverse weather conditions, fires and earthquakes. In EUSF's history there has been only one intervention in a case of man made disaster - the Prestige Oil spill that occurred in November 2002 off the coast of Galicia in Spain.
3. The scale of the disasters
4. Looking at the treatment of the cases
How many EUSF procedures were treated?
Time taken to prepare requests for support
Fund can be mobilised following an application from the country concerned
provided that the disaster event justifies intervention at the
European level. The regulation was reformed in 2014 and its legal basis is Regulation (EU) 2012/2002, as amended by Regulation No. 661/2014. The 2014 reform introduced a number of changes in the Fund’s
activities, such as clarification of the admissibility criteria for
applications for regional disasters, extension of the regulatory deadline for
applications, extension of the implementation period, and the introduction of
5. Examples of support
2012: Earthquake in Italy
2007: Greek forest fires
2014 : Flooding in Serbia
The earthquakes in central Italy - the biggest EUSF contribution
The EU mobilised an unprecedented amount of €1.2 billion under the EU Solidarity Fund, the highest sum ever mobilised in a single instalment, following the earthquakes of 2016 and 2017 in the Italian regions of Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche and Umbria.
6. Complementarity with EU investments in climate mitigation and risk prevention
The EUSF is a valuable instrument in the EU toolkit for interventions in disaster situations, bringing EU added value to the post-disaster response in Member States and accession countries. However, it intervenes only when the disaster has happened. Therefore, it is important to invest in prevention and mitigation, in line with the European Green Deal. There are significant synergies between EUSF and the funds of Cohesion Policy (ERDF and Cohesion Fund). While EUSF addresses interventions in specific situations of natural disasters in the short to medium term, Cohesion Policy takes a more long-term perspective of strategic planning and investments for civil protection, preventive infrastructure, and preparedness, prevention and management of disaster risks.
- EU Solidarity Fund: supporting disaster recovery 2002-2019