Procedure : 2021/2504(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0058/2021

Texts tabled :

B9-0058/2021

Debates :

PV 21/01/2021 - 3
CRE 21/01/2021 - 3

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2021)0023

<Date>{18/01/2021}18.1.2021</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0058/2021</NoDocSe>
PDF 174kWORD 53k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on mitigating the consequences of earthquakes in Croatia</Titre>

<DocRef>(2021/2504(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Karlo Ressler, Andrey Novakov, José Manuel Fernandes, Sunčana Glavak, Željana Zovko, Tomislav Sokol, Daniel Buda, Mircea‑Gheorghe Hava</Depute>

<Commission>{PPE}on behalf of the PPE Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0057/2021

B9‑0058/2021

European Parliament resolution on mitigating the consequences of earthquakes in Croatia

(2021/2504(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union,

 having regard to Article 174, Article 175, third paragraph, and Article 212 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

 having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 of 11 November 2002 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund[1], amended by Regulation (EU) No 661/2014[2] and Regulation (EU) 2020/461[3],

 having regard to Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism[4], amended by Regulation (EU) 2018/1475[5] and Decision (EU) 2019/420[6],

 having regard to the amended proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 May 2020 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus, the Cohesion Fund, the Just Transition Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and financial rules for those and for the Asylum and Migration Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the Border Management and Visa Instrument (COM(2020)0450),

 having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006[7], amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/1839[8], Regulation (EU) 2016/2135[9], Regulation (EU) 2017/825[10], Regulation (EU) 2017/1199[11], Regulation (EU) 2017/2305[12], Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046[13], Regulation (EU) 2018/1719[14], Regulation (EU) 2019/711[15], Regulation (EU) 2020/460[16], Regulation (EU) 2020/558[17], Regulation (EU) 2020/1041[18]and Regulation (EU) 2020/1542[19],

 having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2016/369 of 15 March 2016 on the provision of emergency support within the Union[20], amended by Council Regulation (EU) 2020/521 of 14 April 2020 activating the emergency support under Regulation (EU) 2016/369, and amending its provisions taking into account the COVID‐19 outbreak[21],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 14 October 2020 entitled ‘A Renovation Wave for Europe - greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives’ (COM(2020)0662),

 having regard to Regulation (EU) No 375/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 establishing the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps (‘EU Aid Volunteers initiative’)[22], corrected by Corrigendum to Regulation on 24 April 2014,

 having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 of 20 June 1996 concerning humanitarian aid[23], amended by Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003[24], Regulation (EC) 219/2009[25] and Regulation (EU) 2019/1243[26],

 having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management, and in particular point 11 thereof[27],

 having regard to the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2020 on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Croatia and Poland in relation to a natural disaster and to provide for the payment of advances to Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Spain in relation to a public health emergency (COM(2020)0960),

 having regard to the Council decision of 30 October 2020 adopting the Council’s position on draft amending budget No 9 of the European Union for the financial year 2020[28],

 having regard to its resolution of 24 November 2020 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 9/2020 of the European Union for the financial year 2020 accompanying the proposal to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Croatia and Poland in relation to a natural disaster and to provide for the payment of advances to Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Spain in relation to a public health emergency[29],

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 28 November 2008 calling for civil protection capabilities to be enhanced by a European mutual assistance system building on the civil protection modular approach,

 having regard to its resolution of 14 November 2007 on the regional impact of earthquakes[30],

 having regard to its resolution of 19 June 2008 on stepping up the Union’s disaster response capacity[31],

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas major devastating earthquakes have struck Croatia over the past year, one hitting the city of Zagreb and the counties of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje on 22 March 2020 with a magnitude of 5.5, another two hitting Sisak-Moslavina county on 28 and 29 December 2020 with a magnitude of 5.2 and 6.4 respectively, and a final earthquake hitting the same county on 6 January 2021 with a magnitude of 5.0; whereas the severity of these earthquakes meant they caused damage far away from their epicentres;

B. whereas the earthquake in March was the strongest to hit the Zagreb area since 1880, damaging over 26 000 buildings, of which 1 900 were declared unusable, and causing over EUR 11.5 billion in damage; whereas the wider area around the epicentre was hit by more than 145 aftershocks and tremors in the month that followed;

C. whereas the city of Zagreb and Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje counties are still recovering from the earthquake that had an enormous socio-economic impact and a devastating effect on infrastructure, causing one fatality and leaving 26 people injured, and which will have long-lasting psychological effects; whereas the earthquake damaged priceless buildings of cultural and historical significance;

D. whereas the European Parliament approved an allocation of EUR 683.7 million from the European Union Solidarity Fund in November 2020 to deal with the aftermath of the Zagreb earthquake in March 2020;

E. whereas the most recent earthquake in central Croatia practically destroyed the town of Petrinja and seriously affected the nearby towns of Glina, Sisak, Hrvatska Kostajnica, Majske Poljane and other villages in Sisak-Moslavina county, causing financial, material and socio-economic damage on a scale not seen since the Homeland War; whereas other cities and villages in Zagreb and Karlovac county were also affected, forcing citizens to evacuate their homes;

F. whereas the tremors caused seven fatalities and left 26 people injured, damaged over 30 000 buildings, and was also felt in Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Serbia, as well as, to a lesser extent, in Germany, Slovakia and Czechia;

G. whereas aftershocks continued in the following days and are still being felt in the affected area; whereas people are in constant distress owing to uncertainty and the fear of possible new tremors, which are continuing to happen on a daily basis; whereas there is a risk that more buildings in the affected area will collapse as a result of subsequent earthquakes;

H. whereas according to the Croatian Seismological Service, as many as 574 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 2 have been recorded in the affected area since 28 December 2020;

I. whereas people living in the affected areas are suffering from severe stress as a consequence of the earthquakes occurring in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which could potentially trigger mental health issues and post-traumatic stress syndrome in the near future;

J. whereas the region and its cities have suffered tremendous material and financial damage and need to be rebuilt urgently and swiftly; whereas the quakes have driven large numbers of the inhabitants of the affected areas to the brink of despair and caused various indirect forms of damage in the surrounding areas; whereas the affected area was already extremely socially disadvantaged and economically poor, and the earthquakes will lead to further negative financial and socio-psychological consequences both for its residents and the region as a whole;

K. whereas according to estimates, roughly 90 % of the houses in Petrinja need to be taken down; whereas smaller hamlets and villages around Glina (such as, for example, Majske Poljane) were partially without access to electricity and water even before the earthquake struck and this incident has further cut off their residents from basic infrastructure and services;

L. whereas on 22 March and 29 December 2020 Croatia activated the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and requested winter tents, lighting systems and lighting towers, electric heaters, folding beds, sleeping bags and housing containers;

M. whereas there are indications that the earthquakes have caused damage to embankments and flood defence systems, which may bring about further harm to the already devastated areas in the current season of increased rainfall and floods;

N. whereas local and regional infrastructure has been severely damaged, historical and cultural heritage ruined, and economic activities impaired, particularly agriculture and livestock, the sector on which the local population is most reliant; whereas the people affected are in need of full support and a long-lasting recovery programme;

O. whereas local agricultural facilities such as buildings, machinery, equipment and fields have been severely damaged and a huge number of cattle have been moved to other farms or slaughtered as a matter of urgency;

P. whereas the earthquake has significantly hindered the functioning of public services and institutions; whereas a significant number of schools have to be completely demolished and some university buildings, such as the Faculties of Metallurgy and of Teacher Training in Sisak, can no longer be used for the purposes of carrying out their basic functions;

Q. whereas Sisak Health Centre had to be evacuated moments after the earthquake, exposing patients with COVID-19 and with other conditions to increased health risks; whereas the health centres in Glina and Petrinja, including pharmacies, suffered major damage; whereas the earthquakes have placed an additional burden on the Croatian medical system and have potentially accelerated the spread of COVID-19, particularly in the affected areas;

R. whereas some territories in the European Union are more vulnerable than others and are at high risk of suffering earthquakes; whereas thousands of people have died and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless in the past 20 years as the result of destructive earthquakes affecting Europe;

S. whereas sustainable reconstruction efforts need to be properly coordinated and monitored in order to remedy the economic and social losses, while ensuring transparency, following best practices and complying with public procurement rules;

T. whereas on 5 January 2021 the Croatian Government declared a state of catastrophe in the hardest hit counties, specifically Sisak-Moslavina county and parts of Zagreb and Karlovac counties;

U. whereas the rapid and professional reaction by the national and local authorities, civil protection and rescue units, the Croatian Armed Forces and various humanitarian organisations have greatly mitigated the immediate consequences of the earthquake;

V. whereas the unprecedented solidarity shown by the Croatian people has resulted in massive and spontaneous efforts to assist the local and national authorities in the aftermath of the earthquake and has resulted in almost HRK 100 million in private donations;

W. whereas the reconstruction process must take into account past experiences, and should be carried out with the utmost rapidity and transparency and include expert monitoring; whereas the safety, stability and future prospects of those affected need to be guaranteed in order to ensure that they can continue to live in the region and that the area is not further disadvantaged by the detrimental impacts of population decline and the future demographic outlook;

X. whereas a special focus must be placed on ensuring that the infrastructure that was lacking prior to the earthquake must be promptly established in all parts of the affected area, together with the provision of all basic needs and services;

Y. whereas the affected territories had already been experiencing slow economic growth and depopulation, also as a result of the Homeland War in the 1990s that gravely affected their recovery and development; whereas earthquakes could have a detrimental impact on rural vitality, generational renewal in agriculture, employment and infrastructure, with a negative knock-on effect on economic and social cohesion;

Z. whereas the COVID-19 crisis and spread of the virus further complicates the execution of rescue and recovery activities; whereas the COVID-19 pandemic is a burden on the Croatian economy and necessitates additional financial resources; whereas the earthquake damage to hospitals and other public health institutions in the affected area is adversely affecting the COVID-19 situation;

1. Expresses its deepest solidarity and sympathies with all individuals affected by the earthquakes, with their families, and with Croatia’s national, regional and local authorities involved in relief efforts in the aftermath of the disaster;

2. Praises the ceaseless and swift efforts undertaken in the devastated areas by the rescue units, civil protection forces, Croatian Armed Forces, volunteers, civil society organisations, international organisations, and local, regional and national authorities in an effort to save lives, contain the damage and guarantee basic activities to maintain a decent standard of living; expresses its gratitude to all individuals, organisations and initiatives that expedited these efforts and sent support and assistance;

3. Welcomes the solidarity of the Member States and other countries that are lending their support to this emergency in the form of mutual assistance, including basic necessities, financial aid, volunteers and other assistance, thereby helping to relieve the burden of the interventions; welcomes the solidarity shown by the EU institutions and the international community through mutual assistance in emergency situations;

4. Welcomes the quick and timely reaction of the Commission, and the on-the-spot presence of the Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčić and Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica, as a clear and necessary message of European support and solidarity to Croatia;

5. Expresses concern about the harsh weather conditions expected in the coming months; calls on the Commission to identify all possible ways of providing immediate help and support to the Croatian authorities in ensuring decent and safe living conditions for the people who have been deprived of their homes;

6. Underlines the seriousness of the situation on the ground, which is putting considerable and intense financial pressure on the national, regional and local public authorities in Croatia and may lead to irreversible population decline in the affected areas, with the people affected facing devastating social and economic consequences and extreme psychological and social pressures;

7. Encourages the Croatian authorities, together with Commission experts, to swiftly and thoroughly assess the overall damage in Sisak-Moslavina county in order to begin renovation and reconstruction work as soon as conditions allow; stresses that great importance needs to be attached to stimulating sustainable economic revitalisation and people’s livelihoods when the regional recovery and reconstruction work begins;

8. Stresses the difficulty of predicting earthquakes well in advance and the high levels of seismic activity in southeast Europe; calls on the Commission, together with the Member States, to strengthen research with a view to putting in place a system that ensures better preparedness in order to prevent and manage similar crises and minimise the impact of similar disasters;

9. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further invest in research and development and in new technologies in the field of earthquake risks and disaster-response strategies; calls, moreover, for greater coordination and cooperation between the research and development institutions of the Member States, in particular those facing similar risks; also urges the development of enhanced early warning systems at national level and calls for the links between such systems to be strengthened;

10. Calls on Croatia to prioritise renovation in its recovery and resilience plan, and for it to devote particular attention to comprehensive preventative renovations of housing and buildings at greatest risk in its most earthquake-prone regions;

11. Calls on the Croatian authorities to monitor closely the implementation of post-earthquake reconstruction and to ensure that all activities comply with the highest seismic standards and requirements for buildings and infrastructure; encourages, where appropriate, the use of professional practices and expertise from other Member States;

12. Emphasises that mitigating the consequences of a severe earthquake can take considerably more time than is the case for other types of natural disasters; asks the Commission to recognise this difference within the framework of a potential future revision of the European Solidarity Fund Regulation, in particular as regards the 18-month deadline for the absorption of the resources; stresses the need for a derogation, allowing for the extension of this deadline in the case of severe earthquakes, for which appropriate criteria should be defined;

13. Urges the Commission to include targeted measures to deal with earthquakes and their consequences in planning and legislation under the Renovation Wave; encourages the Croatian authorities to include these measures in their planning and programming for the 2021-2027 EU budget allocations accordingly; calls on the Commission to demonstrate flexibility with regard to programming and the amending of national operational programmes when it comes to dealing with natural disasters;

14. Stresses the importance of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism in fostering cooperation among national civil protection authorities across Europe in adverse situations and in minimising the effects of exceptional events;

15. Calls on the Commission to take into account, when approving financial assistance, of the fact that Croatia is simultaneously fighting a pandemic and a series of devastating tremors; encourages the Commission to simplify the relevant procedures in order to allow effective and swift assistance to be provided and to respond to the immediate needs of the population;

16. Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the EU and Croatian institutions, to devise a swift way to distribute the necessary financial aid and provide other assistance to ensure the swift recovery of the affected areas;

17. Urges the Commission to make available all possible financial means to help Croatia set a swift recovery in motion, to provide assistance to all people in need and to minimise the administrative burdens involved in accessing help and support for people on the ground; calls on the Commission and the Croatian authorities to swiftly mobilise the available resources within the cohesion policy funds for reconstruction activities; stresses, moreover, the importance of creating synergies between all available Union instruments, in order to optimise the use of these resources with a view to effectively completing reconstruction work and all other necessary activities;

18. Stresses the importance of prioritising residents of the affected areas for COVID-19 vaccination; encourages the Croatian Government to implement its decision and redirect a significant portion of its vaccine supply to Sisak-Moslavina county in order to immediately protect the health of all residents, helpers and workers on the ground;

19. Underlines the need to continue providing prioritised medical care and psychological support to those affected by the earthquake in the unpredictable circumstances to come;

20. Calls for increased vigilance in the light of the isolated cases of internet catfishing and other acts which can lead to the exploitation of the situation for personal gain;

21. Points out to the Commission that the new damage caused by the recent earthquakes to buildings damaged during the earthquake in March 2020 will require a further assessment of the damage done, as well as of the renovation projects; underlines that all available human resources and construction machinery had been redirected to Sisak-Moslavina county, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered and slowed down all project preparation processes;

22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Government of Croatia, and the regional and local authorities of the affected areas.

 

[1] OJ L 311, 14.11.2002, p. 3.

[2] OJ L 189, 27.6.2014, p. 143.

[3] OJ L 99, 31.3.2020, p. 9.

[4] OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 924.

[5] OJ L 250, 4.10.2018, p. 1.

[6] OJ L 77I, 20.3.2019, p. 1.

[7] OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.

[8] OJ L 270, 15.10.2015, p. 1.

[9] OJ L 338, 13.12.2016, p. 34.

[10] OJ L 129, 19.5.2017, p. 1.

[11] OJ L 176, 7.7.2017, p. 1.

[12] OJ L 335, 15.12.2017, p. 1.

[13] OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

[14] OJ L 291, 16.11.2018, p. 5.

[15] OJ L 123, 10.5.2019, p. 3.

[16] OJ L 99, 31.3.2020, p. 5.

[17] OJ L 130, 24.4.2020, p. 1.

[18] OJ L 231, 17.7.2020, p. 4.

[19] OJ L 356, 26.10.2020, p. 1.

[20] OJ L 70, 16.3.2016, p. 1.

[21] OJ L 117, 15.4.2020, p. 3.

[22] OJ L 122, 24.4.2014, p. 1.

[23] OJ L 163, 2.7.1996, p. 1.

[24] OJ L 284, 31.10.2003, p. 1.

[25] OJ L 87, 31.3.2009, p. 109.

[26] OJ L 198, 25.7.2019, p. 241.

[27] OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.

[28] OJ C 372I , 4.11.2020, p. 1.

[29] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0313.

[30] OJ C 282E, 6.11.2008, p. 269.

[31] OJ C 286E, 27.11.2009, p. 15.

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