Council approves 18 mn euro aid for Italy
By Gaspard Sebag | Tuesday 15 May 2012
The Council of the EU gave its green light, on 15 May, to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for an amount of €18,061,682 in commitment and payment appropriations relating to flooding in Italy (Liguria and Tuscany), in October 2011. Though the European Parliament has not taken an official position on draft amending budget (DAB) No 2 for the year 2012, there is an agreement in principle with the Council that payments will be funded through redeployments of unused funds under the EU’s economic recovery plan (EERP). A vote in the EP’s Committee on Budgets (BUDG) is scheduled for 31 May, with a plenary approval planned on 12 June.
On 25 October 2011, an extreme weather system centred over North-West Italy led to a vast amount of rain falling within just a few hours. Worst affected were the provinces of La Spezia in Liguria and Massa Carrara in Tuscany. As a result of the deluge, many small upland rivers burst their banks, carrying enormous quantities of water, mud and debris to the valleys below and causing two major rivers – the Vara and the Magra – to flood several towns. Also severely hit was the nearby area of Cinque Terre, in the province of La Spezia.
To cover for some of the damage, Italy sent an application for mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund, which was received at the Commission on 22 December 2011. In the designated disaster zone the Italian authorities estimated total direct damage at €722,467,299. This amount represents 20.43% of the normal threshold of €3,536 billion applicable to Italy in 2011 for mobilising the Solidarity Fund (ie €3 billion in 2002 prices). Nevertheless, the Commission’s services state that the application can be considered to be “extraordinary,” which is why they recommend exceptional mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund. This analysis is shared by both Council and Parliament. n