Earthquakes in Italy: €1.2bn in EU aid approved
Budget MEPs approved nearly €1,2 billion in EU aid to repair the damage caused by earthquakes in Central Italy in 2016 and 2017.
MEPs on the Budgets Committee voted by 36 in favour to 1 against, with 0 abstentions to release €1,196,797,579 from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF).
Between late August 2016 and mid-January 2017, a series of strong earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 5.9 to 6.5 on the Richter scale, followed by a multitude of aftershocks, affected vast areas of the Apennines chain in Central Italy, in particular the regions of Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche and Umbria. 333 people lost their lives and over 30.000 people were displaced and in need of assistance. Infrastructure was greatly damaged and businesses, including farms and the tourism sector, were significantly affected.
The EUSF money can be used to cover reconstruction, emergency and clean-up operations, and the protection of landmarks. Italy is already the largest beneficiary of the Solidarity Fund, having received €1.3 billion since the creation of the fund 15 years ago.
Italy requested the payment of an advance, which was awarded by the Commission on 29 November 2016, amounting to €30 million (the maximum possible amount under the provisions of the Regulation), which was paid out in full.
Rapporteur Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT): "The EU promised to help Italy face this tragedy; I am proud to say we are delivering on this. €1.2 billion is the biggest ever use of the EU Solidarity Fund, which will be used to help the people of Umbria, Lazio, Marche and Abruzzo, dramatically affected by the earthquakes, to plan a new future. It will help the reconstruction undertaken by our Government and local authorities."
This aid still has to be approved by a vote in plenary, scheduled during the 11-14 September session.
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 76 disasters — including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought — in at least 24 EU countries has received EUSF aid totalling more than €5 billion.