Parliament's Budgets Committee on Wednesday proposed a solution to break the deadlock with EU governments over financial support for Slovenia, Croatia and the Czech Republic under the Solidarity Fund. These countries were hard hit by flooding in 2010 but the scheduled aid (€19.5 million) has not yet come through due to a dispute between Parliament and Council over where the money should come from.
Background to the dispute
The Solidarity Fund contains no money as such. When natural disasters occur, aid funding must come from other budget lines, via a procedure called "redeployment". At the start of any given year, it is difficult to assess for which budget lines money might remain available at the end of the year. Therefore, in the course of the budget procedure for 2011, it was agreed that fresh money would be added in the case of unforeseen events requiring funding. However, despite a written declaration to do so, the Member States keep insisting on finding money within the budget, rather than adding the agreed 'fresh money'. This led to using a so-called 'negative reserve' for earlier support to countries hit by floods. Now the Council is proposing that the necessary €19.5 million be taken from the European Social Fund.
Parliament's Budgets Committee disagrees with this Council proposal. It would rather use the money that - according to the European Commission - will not be spent on major energy projects this year (due to delays in implementation) to finance the €19.5 million for these three countries. It also supports the proposal of rapporteur Sidonia Elżbieta JĘDRZEJEWSKA (EPP, PL) to use €182.4 million of these unspent energy funds to restore the negative reserve that was used for previous solidarity aid. And thirdly, the committee members agree with Ms Jędrzejewska's proposal to use €50 million of these unspent funds to add to the European Globalisation Fund (EGF).
Ms Jędrzejewska believes this is the best solution to all three issues: compensating Slovenia, Croatia and the Czech Republic, balancing the negative reserve and refilling the EGF line. "I hope that Council will share our position", she concluded.
In the chair : Alain LAMASSOURE (EPP, FR)