This year the Valencian Community (Spain) is being devastated by forest fires, which have already affected more than 22 municipalities, including Cortes de Pallás and Andilla, the two areas most seriously affected by the disaster. Over 50 000 hectares have already been burnt to the ground, more than 3 000 people have had to be evacuated and one person has died. It has been calculated that it will take over 40 years to regenerate the native pine forests.
In view of the fact that both Parliament and the Commission have long insisted on prevention as a key element of policies to combat forest fires, it is incomprehensible that the Spanish and Valencian authorities have not made greater efforts to apply preventive policies and that the fire-fighting budget has been cut by almost 14 %. It should be remembered that although the Spanish State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) issued alarming forecast bulletins for the summer months earlier this year, the Government failed to activate the existing anti-drought mechanisms or propose any prevention or fire-fighting plans with which to provide an adequate response to these warnings.
Given the catastrophic dimensions of the abovementioned fires:
Does the Commission consider that the Solidarity Fund should provide resources with which to mitigate the damage caused by this disaster?
Does the Commission not feel that, given the warnings and in light of the terms of European policy on preventing and combating droughts and forest fires, it would be advisable to adopt a legislative package addressing prevention and coordination, in order to ensure that no further environmental disasters on this scale take place within the EU?