MEPs have approved €71,524,810 in EU aid to repair damage caused by floods in the UK from December 2015 to January 2016, drought and fires in Cyprus from October 2015 to June 2016 and fires on the Portuguese island of Madeira in August 2016, in a vote on Wednesday. The aid comes from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF).
The aid was approved by 681 votes to 11, with 31 abstentions.
UK floods in 2015-16
The proposed aid totals €60,301,050. From December 2015 to January 2016, 11 UK regions were hit by heavy rainfall and strong winds, which led to flooding and infrastructure damage.
Cyprus – drought and fires in 2015-16
The proposed aid totals €7,298,760. From October 2015 to June 2016, Cyprus suffered from very low precipitation combined with extremely high temperatures, leading to severe drought with serious crop failure, forest and vegetation fires and scarcity of water. Two major wild fires in June 2016 burnt an area of over 2,600 hectares of state forest.
Portugal – Madeira fires in 2016
The proposed aid totals €3,925,000. Between 8 and 13 August 2016, the Portuguese island of Madeira suffered from large wild fires, burning an area of 6,000 hectares. They led to the destruction of essential public infrastructure, public buildings, private homes, businesses and damage in agriculture.
The aid of €71.5 million is intended to help restore essential infrastructure, reimburse the cost of emergency measures and cover the costs of some of the clean-up operations. The EUSF support was adopted with 681 votes against 11, with 3 abstentions.
The Council has approved the aid on Monday, 3 April. The funds can now be made rapidly available. Advances have already been paid out to Cyprus and Portugal. The UK did not request the payment of an advance.
The EUSF was set up in 2002 in response to disastrous flooding in central Europe in the summer of that year. Since then, repair work after more than 70 disasters — including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought — in at least 24 EU countries has received EUSF aid totalling more than €3.8 billion.