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Verbatim report of proceedings
Thursday, 27 February 2014 - Strasbourg Revised edition

5. Consequences of adverse weather conditions in various Member States (debate)
Video of the speeches
Minutes
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  President. - The next item is the debate on the Commission statement on consequences of adverse weather conditions in various Member States (2014/2599(RSP)).

 
  
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  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. - Mr President, repeated heavy rainfall and unusually strong winds since last December have resulted in flooding in a number of Member States. In particular Ireland, the UK, France, and to a lesser degree some other countries, were all affected. Moreover, very unusual snowfall and freezing rain has led to serious damage in the Southern Alps, and in Slovenia in particular.

In all these instances, the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) was closely monitoring the situation as it developed and immediately established contact with all the countries affected.

The ERCC kept an overview of developments and potential needs for assistance. It regularly shared information and provided situational updates to Member State authorities through the EU Common Emergency Communication and Information System. At the request of the national authorities in, for instance, the UK and Slovenia, the ERCC also supplied satellite imaging of flood zones.

In the event that a Member State requests external assistance, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism is activated via the ERCC. In such cases, pre-defined civil protection assets – so-called modules, composed of specialised equipment and teams – are available for deployment if necessary at short notice.

Following Slovenia’s request for assistance, 11 Member States offered assistance, mainly through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism but also bilaterally, providing the disaster-stricken country with more than 120 power generators.

While no estimates of total damage are available at the moment, we do know that considerable destruction was caused in many places, in particular in coastal areas where high tides added to the damage, and in Slovenia as a result of the freezing rain.

The EU Solidarity Fund was established after the terrible floods in 2002 to provide financial assistance, and has since proven its usefulness by providing aid amounting to over EUR 3.7 billion to Member States to deal with the costs of emergency measures in the event of major disasters.

The Solidarity Fund is, of course, in principle available to those countries now affected by storms, floods and ice too, if the conditions are met. Activation of the Fund relies first of all however on applications being submitted by Member States if they consider that the Fund should intervene. The Commission cannot activate the Fund on its own initiative, but stands ready to give any guidance and advice that may be required in preparing applications.

If and when applications are submitted, the Commission will assess them as quickly as possible and, if possible, request the Council and Parliament to mobilise the necessary financial resources.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid, au nom du groupe PPE. – Monsieur le Président, chers collègues, face aux nombreuses intempéries qui, depuis des semaines, endeuillent notre continent, ma première pensée va aux victimes de ces drames et à leurs familles. Certains de nos concitoyens ont perdu la vie, d'autres ont été sévèrement blessés. Nombreux sont ceux qui ont absolument tout perdu. Au nom de notre Assemblée, je souhaite leur exprimer toute notre solidarité.

Dans mon pays, la Bretagne, le Var et l'Aquitaine ont été particulièrement touchés. Les dégâts se chiffrent à plusieurs centaines de millions d'euros. Je tiens à saluer à ce titre la mobilisation de notre collègue Agnès[nbsp ]Lebrun, maire de Morlaix, qui se bat aux côtés de ses administrés pour trouver des solutions et réparer les dégâts.

Malgré la répétition et l'accumulation de ces phénomènes, les États perdent à chaque fois la mémoire du risque. Nous continuons de construire des résidences dans des zones inondables, nous négligeons la prévention, nos infrastructures sont obsolètes et nos systèmes d'alerte sont trop souvent défaillants.

L'Europe ne doit pas rester inactive; elle peut venir en aide aux populations sinistrées grâce, notamment, au Fonds de solidarité, comme l'a signalé le commissaire. Notre collègue Rosa Estaràs Ferragut discute actuellement de la réforme de ce fonds. Il faut absolument boucler les négociations avant les élections, afin que l'aide soit simplifiée et que le déblocage des crédits soit efficace et simple. Je m'inquiète cependant du faible budget alloué au Fonds de solidarité, qui a été divisé par deux par rapport à la période précédente. Qu'allons-nous répondre à ceux qui demandent l'aide de l'UE, lorsque les caisses seront vides?

Nous devons agir sur plusieurs autres tableaux: la mise en place du Corps européen de volontaires proposé par Michel Barnier; l'accompagnement des États qui ne disposent pas de stratégie de gestion de risques; l'échange d'expériences et d'informations; la mobilisation des Fonds structurels pour permettre des travaux d'infrastructures, d'endiguement et de protection face aux risques; l'utilisation des crédits Interreg, pour que les territoires transfrontaliers coopèrent et coordonnent leurs services de pompiers, de secours et d'ambulances.

Les États membres doivent maintenant clarifier leur position. Vont-ils privilégier l'aide et la solidarité ou, au contraire, l'égoïsme? Le Parlement, lui, a choisi.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, the recent record-breaking heavy rain and wind has caused a huge amount of damage right across the UK. For example, north and west Wales has had terrible flooding, and this flooding I have seen for myself. In other parts of the UK as well, such as Somerset and the Thames Valley, thousands of houses and businesses have been flooded, and roads and railways have been disrupted or even destroyed. This bad weather is not just recent, it started months ago.

In January of this year I wrote to the UK Government saying that it should apply to the European Solidarity Fund for money for these areas. It is only the UK Government, as a Member State, that can apply for this money. Unfortunately, it seems reluctant to do so: maybe because it will impact on the UK rebate; maybe because the government is embarrassed to come to the European Union and ask for money when it spends so much time criticising the EU. The government should put all these things aside. It should put the flooded areas and flooded communities first and not Treasury finances. Once again, I call on the UK Government to apply for this funding from the European Union.

 
  
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  Catherine Bearder, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, Commissioner, as you know the south of England and Wales have, since Christmas, been hit by storm after storm. Indeed, this has been the case across the whole of the South. Farmland is under metres of water, rail lines have been washed away or covered by landslips, trees and power lines are down and thousands of people have been forced out of their homes and businesses. This week I visited a family in my constituency that have for two weeks had raw sewage in the whole street, in their houses and in their gardens and there is no sign of this going down – the drains are collapsing.

Yet we have a Minister who is in denial about climate change and dithering about whether they dare call on the European Solidarity Fund. When the Lib Dems wrote to point out that the money was there, first they were not going to claim for it, then they were, and last week I was notified by Twitter that they had decided that they would not be claiming. We have to campaign hard to make sure that our Ministers claim what is there for the taking. Time is running out and we need you, Commissioner, to help encourage them to work on the preventative work on floods, so that we can build up flood defences. We also need restoration – especially of our cultural heritage – and accommodation for those people who are out of their homes. We need a lot more information getting down to the regional governments so that they can also assist in claiming.

We cannot allow Euroscepticism by my government to get in the way of claiming what is rightly there for our European citizens and my constituents to help them over this terrible time and build preventative systems for the future, because we know that we are going to get more storms in the future.

 
  
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  Satu Hassi, Verts/ALE-ryhmän puolesta. – Arvoisa puhemies, hyvät kollegat, viikonloppuna kotikaupungissani näytti, tuntui ja tuoksui, siltä kuin olisi huhtikuu. Se ei ole vaarallista. Äärimmäiset säät sen sijaan ovat vaarallisia.

Kaliforniassa on pahin vesipula vuosikymmeniin. Britanniassa on ollut ennätyssateita ja tulvia, kuten kollegat ovat kuvanneet. Monia osia Yhdysvalloista ovat koetelleet paukkupakkaset ja lumimyrskyt. Australian kesä on ollut ennätyskuuma. Kuumuus on saanut jopa kuolleita lepakoita tippumaan tuhansittain taivaalta puutarhoihin.

Yksittäistä sääilmiötä ei voi liittää ilmastonmuutokseen, mutta kaikki tämä on sitä, minkä ennustetaan yleistyvän ilmastonmuutoksen myötä, ja yhä rajumpana. Maailman meteorologinen järjestö totesi viime vuosikymmenen olleen koko maailmassa äärisäiden vuosikymmen. Kaikille hallituksille tämä ei ole mennyt jakeluun, ei myöskään Euroopassa.

Jotta EU tekisi oman osuutensa ilmastonmuutoksen rajoittamiseksi alle kahden asteen, meidän päästövähennyksemme vuonna 2030 pitäisi olla ainakin 50 prosenttia, eikä 40 prosenttia, kuten komissio ehdottaa. Olemme luvanneet vähentää päästöjä vuoteen 2050 mennessä jopa 95 prosenttia. Se ei onnistu ilman sitovia uusiutuvan energian ja energiatehokkuuden tavoitteita, mutta silti niistä kuitenkin edelleen kiistellään.

Tässä kuussa YK:n pääsihteeri ja myös monet sotilasasiantuntijat ovat varoittaneet, että ilmastonmuutos on valtava turvallisuusuhka. Meidän on suhtauduttava siihen sellaisena ja mitoitettava ilmastotoimet sen mukaisesti. Tulvien ja muiden äärisäiden uhrit tarvitsevat solidaarisuuttamme, mutta tärkeintä solidaarisuutta on toimia ilmastonmuutoksen hillitsemiseksi.

 
  
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  Younous Omarjee, au nom du groupe GUE/NGL. – Monsieur le Président, je me félicite, au nom de mon groupe, de ce débat car nous savons que les aspects liés aux répercussions des catastrophes naturelles et des changements climatiques sont, aujourd'hui, une question de sécurité collective à l'échelle du monde, et que nos pays en Europe en supportent les conséquences dans tous les secteurs.

Dans les régions ultrapériphériques, qui sont des petits territoires insulaires, il y a une concentration des impacts, et nos territoires sont particulièrement vulnérables à toutes les conséquences des changements climatiques qui – faut-il le rappeler – sont déjà en cours. Nous voyons ainsi se multiplier, année après année, saison après saison, les phénomènes climatiques extrêmes, avec des ouragans et des tempêtes de plus en plus violentes.

L'Union européenne a conclu un certain nombre d'accords avec les petits États insulaires en développement, et il existe également, au niveau de l'organisation des Nations unies un certain nombre de programmes. Je demande à l'Union européenne de ne pas oublier les régions ultrapériphériques et les PTOM dans la mise en œuvre de ce partenariat.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Mr President, I represent the West Midlands in the United Kingdom where we have had terrible weather conditions. This has caused a tremendous amount of damage through floods, namely in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

At the last plenary here in Strasbourg, a Spanish MEP stood up and said he wanted more funds for Spain to deal with weather damage. That is all well and good, but Spain is already a net taker from the European Union. What about my constituents? What about the people in the West Midlands who do not get any of this emergency fund? I am concerned about them. I am concerned about the impact on their lives.

The UK pays GDP[nbsp ]52 million a day to the European Union. When do we get our share back?

 
  
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  Rosa Estaràs Ferragut (PPE). - Señor Presidente, desde comienzos de año, y especialmente durante el mes de febrero, se han sucedido veinticinco temporales de viento, de lluvias y de mar en la costa norte de España, con alertas de gravedad máxima por fenómenos costeros en Galicia, Asturias, País Vasco y Cantabria.

La virulencia de todas estas tormentas ha provocado en todas estas regiones cuantiosos daños, especialmente en el dominio público marítimo terrestre —en los puertos y playas, principalmente—. También se han visto dañadas infraestructuras de todo tipo —carreteras, vías urbanas, embarcaciones, diques, paseos marítimos, comercios, viviendas—, se han producido cancelaciones de vuelos y daños asimismo en el sector agrícola, ganadero y pesquero.

Ante este desolador panorama, el Gobierno de España ha respondido con inmediatez aprobando, a los pocos días de la catástrofe, un real decreto que aporta 44 millones de euros para que puedan volver a la normalidad las zonas siniestradas e incluye también ayudas a los sectores agrícola, ganadero y de los pescadores y mariscadores.

Soy ponente, Señoría, del nuevo Reglamento del Fondo de Solidaridad que estamos negociando en fase de diálogo a tres bandas y quisiera que, al igual que las regiones de España han tenido cerca a sus autoridades regionales y al Gobierno de España, tengan también cerca a la Unión Europea. La cara de la solidaridad se tiene que ver en estos momentos.

 
  
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  Francesca Barracciu (S&D). - Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, il ciclone Cleopatra ha provocato 19 vittime in Sardegna, tra cui un agricoltore ancora disperso e un imprenditore suicidatosi dinanzi alla disperazione della perdita e all'impossibilità di poter far ripartire la propria attività economica. Vi sono circa 70 comuni colpiti e danni stimati per 650 milioni di euro.

Abbiamo il dovere di sostenere i cittadini e le imprese colpite ma, ancora di più, abbiamo il dovere di garantire la velocità dei tempi e delle procedure, perché i tempi biblici degli aiuti aggiungono danno al danno. Nel recente voto in sede di commissione per lo sviluppo regionale in merito al regolamento sul Fondo di solidarietà dell'Unione abbiamo definito a sei settimane il limite massimo entro il quale la Commissione europea dovrà rispondere alle richieste di attivazione del Fondo. Sappiamo che c'è condivisione che vi chiedo di confermare qui stamattina.

Non è stata invece accettata l'idea che il dissesto idrogeologico sia una variabile che può drammaticamente aggravare gli effetti di eventi metereologici avversi e che sarebbe necessario che il Fondo di solidarietà finanziasse anche le opere volte a sanare il dissesto idrogeologico. Certo, dobbiamo incentivare politiche di contrasto al consumo avido del territorio. Mi preme portare all'attenzione dell'Aula questo aspetto e conoscere anche qui, sul dissesto idrogeologico, la posizione della Commissione e del Consiglio.

 
  
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  Karima Delli (Verts/ALE). - Monsieur le Président, permettez-moi de m'adresser à mes collègues du PPE: vous semblez vous apercevoir aujourd'hui que le budget du Fonds de solidarité a été divisé par deux pour les sept ans à venir. Or, rappelez-vous, vous avez approuvé le budget de l'Union!

Cela me fait penser un peu à M.[nbsp ]Cameron: on dépouille l'Europe de ses moyens, mais on n'hésite pas à implorer son aide. Vous semblez soudain préoccupés par le dérèglement climatique: vous avez raison! Il faut des mesures de prévention. Mais, là aussi, il fallait se réveiller avant! Nous n'avons pas la mémoire courte: que ce soit sur le paquet climat ou sur le fléchage obligatoire du FEDER ou du FEADER vers des mesures de prévention, vous avez toujours refusé nos propositions "écolos".

J'ose espérer que cet éclair de lucidité se poursuivra dans les négociations sur le Fonds de solidarité. Trop souvent, quand il faut voter ou négocier à huis clos en trilogue, les masques tombent. Or, ici, on parle de drames humains et de dégâts matériels. Soyez cohérents, soyez responsables! Regardez à long terme et vers l'avenir. Il ne s'agit pas d'un paquet cadeau que l'on doit donner, aujourd'hui, à la veille des élections européennes.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). - Mr[nbsp ]President, firstly I would like to thank the Conference of Presidents for acceding to our request at the last plenary for a discussion in Parliament on this topic of great importance to our citizens. I would also like to thank Commissioner Hahn, whom I and my colleagues met in January and who showed flexibility and understanding of the problem.

However, since our meeting with Commissioner Hahn, this situation has got increasingly worse. The recent ‘Storm Darwin’ did more damage than all the previous storms during December and early January. So it is important that we discuss it and that we send a clear message to Member States that they should carry out a comprehensive analysis of the damage done, and then make an application to the EU Solidarity Fund.

The fund may not be as big as it was, but in times of crisis people look to the European Union for help. We have a golden opportunity here to stand with those who have suffered enormously. In my own constituency, in Clare, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Wexford, farms, roads, houses, coastlines and beaches have all been severely damaged and people are looking for help. Rather than saying that we will respond if we get an application, we should be encouraging people to apply and saying that we will stand by them as we would do when giving humanitarian aid across the world.

It is time for us to stand by our own citizens in Europe so that they can get help and see that Europe works for them.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D). - Senhor Presidente, as intempéries que recentemente afetaram as nossas regiões são reveladoras da importância que revestem as questões das catástrofes naturais para as nossas populações. As alterações climáticas, infelizmente, não nos estão a deixar outra escolha que não a de agirmos preventivamente no domínio das políticas da energia e do clima, mas também da necessidade de flexibilizar os mecanismos de ajuda às nossas populações.

A União deve dizer presente, mesmo quando os critérios do nível de estragos em relação ao PIB não forem atingidos, mas se verificarem, por exemplo, impactos que afetem todo um setor de atividade ou de infraestruturas, como portos, estradas e aeroportos, que inviabilizem a retoma da atividade económica e social em condições de normalidade.

As regiões são muitas vezes confrontadas com prejuízos que, não sendo de maior monta, têm todavia enorme impacto à dimensão da sua realidade. E, Sr. Presidente, é justamente nestes momentos em que a presença da União é mais necessária que ela não pode deixar de se fazer sentir.

 
  
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  Marco Scurria (PPE). - Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, ringrazio il signor Commissario Šemeta per il suo intervento e per quello che ci ha detto. Effettivamente, nelle ultime settimane vaste zone dell'Unione sono state oggetto di perturbazioni e di piogge torrenziali. Abbiamo ascoltato alcuni esempi in alcuni Stati nazionali.

Io le porto la testimonianza del mio paese, l'Italia, uno dei paesi più mediterranei, con il clima temperato e con il sole per molti mesi all'anno. Eppure, in questi giorni addirittura la capitale, Roma, è stata sotto una pioggia così forte che ha provocato allagamenti, evacuazioni della popolazione nonché interventi urgenti e difficili della protezione civile e dei pompieri, senza contare i morti e i danneggiamenti in tante altre parti d'Italia.

Evidentemente siamo a chiederci se l'Unione europea possa continuare a dare solamente solidarietà o se debba attivarsi con gesti concreti. Possiamo sperare che si possa intervenire con un fondo appositamente creato o gestire tali emergenze attraverso il Fondo di solidarietà dell'Unione europea? Penso sia opportuno capire che, a fronte dei mutamenti climatici che sono in corso, l'Unione deve intervenire in modo più puntuale. Abbiamo necessità di fondi per contrastare l'erosione delle coste, abbiamo bisogno di risorse per prevenire interventi sismici e gestire quando purtroppo questi si verificano, e ancora interventi veri per contrastare il dissesto idrologico. C'è bisogno urgente di tutelare il nostro patrimonio artistico e culturale lasciato in balia dell'usura del tempo.

Abbiamo bisogno di strumenti nuovi perché siamo di fronte ad emergenze nuove. Penso che i cittadini abbiano più bisogno di vedere l'Unione europea intervenire direttamente su questi aspetti, piuttosto che su tanti altri di cui non si sente proprio l'esigenza.

 
  
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  Antonio Masip Hidalgo (S&D). - Señor Presidente, gracias por atender mi petición de debate urgente. Gracias a la compañera Irigoyen por contribuir a promoverlo.

El viento es comunitario, las mareas también. Han asolado el Arco Atlántico y la costa asturiana, donde me he reunido con los damnificados de los sectores de la pesca, la agricultura, el turismo y las comunicaciones. La situación es muy dura. Adoptemos un criterio amplio para unas condiciones que lo reclaman en el Arco Atlántico.

El afecto comunitario en forma de compensaciones ha de llegar a estos sufridos europeos. Y, ¡ojo! Cuando hablamos de subsidiariedad, nos referimos a una mayor implicación de los Estados, en líneas de ayuda, y a una presencia cercana a los trágicos acontecimientos.

 
  
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  Isabelle Thomas (S&D). - Monsieur le Président, le règlement de 2002 instituant le Fonds de solidarité de l'Union européenne prévoit une aide financière pour compenser les dommages occasionnés par des catastrophes naturelles.

Les littoraux atlantiques, mais aussi certaines régions ultrapériphériques, comme l'île de la Réunion, ont récemment subi de très sévères intempéries aux conséquences dramatiques pour les populations. De lourds dégâts au niveau des infrastructures ferroviaires, routières, électriques et de télécommunications, ainsi que des villes inondées sont à déplorer.

Ces catastrophes ont aussi un impact direct sur la plupart des activités économiques. L'inondation des terres agricoles affecte aussi bien les éleveurs que l'ensemble des agriculteurs. En France, mille sept cents navires de pêche sont restés à quai durant trois mois; les plages ont été polluées par des boulettes de fioul déversées par des navires qui profitent des intempéries pour nettoyer leurs cuves, avec les conséquences que cela entraîne pour l'environnement et le tourisme.

Enfin, le front de mer endommagé par les tempêtes nécessite des travaux de stabilisation. Il est indéniable que ces régions ont été touchées par une catastrophe de grande ampleur aux répercussions graves et durables pour les habitants et les activités économiques.

C'est pourquoi je vous demande, Monsieur le représentant de la Commission, de vous assurer que le Fonds de solidarité de l'Union européenne vienne en aide aux régions sinistrées.

 
  
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  María Irigoyen Pérez (S&D). - Señor Presidente, como usted ha dicho, Comisario, ante la pérdida de vidas humanas y daños materiales hay que activar el Fondo de Solidaridad europeo. Cierto que lo han solicitado los Estados miembros; pero que la burocracia no impida recibir la ayuda, la solidaridad, con la máxima urgencia.

Han sido muchas regiones europeas las que los han sufrido. También en mi país. Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria y el País Vasco han sufrido daños materiales que se unen a las pérdidas de vidas humanas, además de los graves daños materiales, como la paralización de la flota pesquera y las pérdidas en la agricultura.

Desde este Parlamento pedimos a la Comisión Europea que proporcione ayuda financiera y técnica urgente mediante el Fondo de Solidaridad. Lamento que la falta de compromiso y voluntad política del Consejo haya reducido a la mitad este Fondo necesario que el Parlamento había pedido reforzar.

Comisario, ante la pérdida de sus casas y negocios, es necesario que la Comisión agilice la evaluación de daños y haga una interpretación flexible del umbral del perjuicio económico, para garantizar que la ayuda llegue a los afectados. Respuesta urgente, suficiente y solidaria para paliar las pérdidas

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D). - Senhor Presidente, fortes nevões na Eslovénia e na Áustria causaram o isolamento de várias regiões. Graves tempestades no Reino Unido deixaram uma parte considerável do território inundado. Forte agitação marítima e ventos intensos provocaram enormes estragos em Espanha e Portugal, o meu país. Estes são apenas alguns exemplos das consequências das más condições meteorológicas que têm afetado diversos Estados-Membros. Quero manifestar aqui a minha solidariedade para com as populações atingidas e apelar à solidariedade da União Europeia para com as vítimas e para com estes países.

O aumento e gravidade das catástrofes à escala mundial deve-se em parte aos efeitos das alterações climáticas. A nova legislação relativa ao mecanismo de proteção civil reconhece a conexão entre o aumento e gravidade das catástrofes e as alterações climáticas. As alterações climáticas são uma ameaça real para as pessoas e para o planeta. A União Europeia deve manter a ambição e liderança, para que se consiga um acordo global vinculativo em 2015. Não pode haver mais adiamentos. É a nossa sobrevivência que está em causa.

 
  
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  Tanja Fajon (S&D). - Kot ste obveščeni, je bil velik del Slovenije v nedavni vremenski ujmi dobesedno vkopan v led. Trenutno so številni kraji še vedno povsem poplavljeni.

Škoda je milijonska, tako v infrastrukturi kot v naravi, vse razsežnosti katastrofe se bodo v celoti pokazale šele čez čas.

Slovenci smo sicer pokazali izjemno solidarnost v medsebojni pomoči prizadetim. Slovenski evropski poslanci smo prejšnji teden pogajalsko ekipo Evropskega parlamenta že pozvali k čim prejšnjemu sprejetju nove ureditve dodeljevanja sredstev iz Solidarnostnega sklada Evropske unije. Slovenija je do sredstev nedvomno upravičena, saj je škoda samo v prvih nekaj dneh presegla mejo 300 milijonov evrov.

Nova ureditev uvaja tudi vnaprejšnja plačila, kar bi bilo za državo, ki potrebuje takojšnjo pomoč, bistvenega pomena. Upam, da bodo pogajanja čim prej končana in bo Slovenija lahko pomoč črpala že po novih pravilih.

Vladni postopki za zaprosilo za pomoč iz solidarnostnega sklada so že v teku, zato Komisijo pozivam, da prošnjo prednostno obravnava. Vsem se zahvaljujem za pomoč.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Salvador Garriga Polledo (PPE). - Señor Presidente, la Unión Europea está hecha por millones de historias individuales, de éxitos y de desgracias.

Llevo muchos años trabajando en el Parlamento Europeo ―en el presupuesto comunitario― y participé en la creación del Fondo de Solidaridad. Sé perfectamente cuán importante es para las grandes catástrofes. Pero en la pequeña solidaridad, cuando el agua o el fuego causan daños económicos que no llegan al umbral mínimo, el Fondo de Solidaridad no está presente.

En mi región, Asturias, han resultado dañados puertos pesqueros, paseos marítimos, pequeños negocios turísticos, playas y hasta el único museo europeo dedicado al calamar gigante. El Gobierno español, a través del plan litoral, cubre adecuadamente los daños individuales. Pero en esta pequeña solidaridad, yo me pregunto: ¿Dónde ven los asturianos la presencia de la Unión Europea?

 
  
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  Ricardo Cortés Lastra (S&D). - Señor Presidente, los daños producidos por el temporal que ha afectado en los meses de diciembre y enero a la cornisa cantábrica han sido cuantiosos. En concreto, hablamos de 150 millones de euros, más el paro en la apertura de negocios y la pérdida de fauna. En mi región, en Cantabria, se calcula que son unos 5 millones de euros.

El Gobierno regional de Ignacio Diego se refugió en sus recortes presupuestarios para no atender a los afectados. «No hay dinero», dijo. Por su parte, el Gobierno de España tardó quince días desde el temporal en aprobar unas ayudas escasas en cuantía para paliar los daños ocasionados en la costa norte.

Así pues, como España no responde, será otra vez Europa la que salvará al Partido Popular de estar con el agua al cuello, a través del Fondo de Solidaridad. ¡Ya es hora de que el Gobierno español deje de reaccionar al límite y empiece a actuar con planes bien financiados a nivel nacional y regional en prevención de inundaciones!

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE). - Mr President, the extreme weather has caused severe damage to infrastructure and property across Ireland. The government announced recently that it was not applying for the EU Solidarity Fund in view of the fact that the expense does not reach the threshold. This is in sharp contrast with 2009 when the late Minister of Finance, Brian Lenihan, applied and secured EUR[nbsp ]13[nbsp ]million. I am calling on the government, even at this late stage, to submit an application.

A comprehensive flood defence strategy for rural and coastal communities is also immediately required. I believe that the government should make an immediate application to the European Investment Bank, where funding is available. I also call on the government to put in place a comprehensive scheme for the damage and loss suffered by all our fishermen, who have had little or no income during the course of the last three months. Mr Coveney must, in addition to national funding, also utilise the EMFF which has been approved by committee and will be approved by this House at the next session.

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE). - Včasih narava resnično pokaže zobe. V moji Sloveniji se to pogosto dogaja.

Zadnja naravna katastrofa z žledom je povzročila nekaj sto milijonov evrov škode. Ravno tiste dni je bil v Sloveniji na obisku tud predsednik Sveta Van Rompuy in bil vidno pretresen nad videnim. Žled je uničil polovico slovenskih gozdov, 6300 kilometrov gozdnih cest, elektro daljnovode in tako dalje. Sedaj je Slovenija pripravila sanacijski program.

Slovenija bo za razliko od Velike Britanije zaprosila za pomoč evropski sklad za solidarnost, ker izpolnjuje pogoje, saj je škoda višja od 0,6 odstotka bruto nacionalnega dohodka. Torej vnaprej hvala za pomoč.

Kdor hitro da, dvakrat da, zato naj se še posebej zahvalim v imenu ljudi, ki so utrpeli veliko škode, tudi sosednjim državam, še posebej Avstriji, ki je posredovala veliko agregatov, ko je bil električni mrk v Sloveniji. Prihajale so cele skupine gasilcev, in so pomagali tudi slovenskim reševalcem pri tej nesreči.

 
  
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  Ruža Tomašić (ECR). - Gospodine predsjedniče, zbog obilnih kiša i topljenja snijega nekoliko se hrvatskih županija bori s poplavama gotovo cijelu veljaču. Nakon ledenog okova koji je zarobio Gorski kotar i uzrokovao pravu elementarnu nepogodu, 11. veljače započela je kriza s rekordno visokim razinama vode u rijekama i riječnim kanalima koja traje do danas. Još uvijek je od svijeta odsječeno više tisuća ljudi, a vlada i nestašica hrane i pitke vode. Samo su solidarnost ostatka države s pogođenim županijama te vrijedan rad službi i humanitarnih organizacija spriječili veće tragedije.

No unatoč nadljudskim naporima materijalna šteta nije mogla biti spriječena. Samo u Karlovačkoj županiji ona se procjenjuje na preko 40 milijuna kuna, dok je stanje na području Sisačko–moslavačke županije još alarmantnije. Nadam se da će se Hrvatskoj u solidariziranju s unesrećenima pridružiti i Europska unija odobravanjem sredstava iz Europskog fonda solidarnosti kako bi se u područje pogođeno poplavama i ledom što prije vratio normalan život.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). - Mr[nbsp ]President, this debate is important because we are talking about people who are being adversely affected by the unusual weather patterns. Certainly, we in this House have an issue around the budget: we are not the collectors of tax in Europe. We have had a tragic situation in that the reduction in the Solidarity Fund was real, and is having an impact, and that is something we need to take cognisance of.

In Ireland we have had problems in the north, the south-east and the west. I visited farmers in Galway where they are flooded even as we speak, and more than 20 roads are closed. The Irish Government has provided EUR[nbsp ]70[nbsp ]million from our own resources to help, as well as EUR[nbsp ]25[nbsp ]million in humanitarian assistance. Of course, much more is needed. The lesson we should learn from this experience is that we do need more funding for solidarity. In Ireland, the Government’s position is that, because of the budget cut and the stricter criteria of application, there would have been very little to receive in terms of support – about EUR[nbsp ]1 to 1.7 million.

Let us show solidarity with our citizens.

 
  
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  Νίκος Χρυσόγελος (Verts/ALE). - Κύριε Πρόεδρε, είναι γεγονός ότι πολλές ευρωπαϊκές χώρες επλήγησαν από τις κλιματικές αλλαγές τον τελευταίο καιρό - από την Ισπανία, την Βρετανία, την Πορτογαλία, μέχρι την Ελλάδα και την Ιταλία. Είναι επίσης γεγονός ότι η κλιματική αλλαγή εξελίσσεται. Έχουμε μια σειρά από εκθέσεις διεθνών οργανισμών - από την έκθεση της Διακυβερνητικής Επιτροπής για την Κλιματική Αλλαγή μέχρι, παλιότερα, την έκθεση της Παγκόσμιας Τράπεζας και του Nicholas Stern - που δείχνουν ότι η πρόληψη είναι ο καλύτερος τρόπος για να προστατεύσουμε και το κλίμα και την οικονομία και την ευημερία των πολιτών.

Ξέρουμε λοιπόν τι πρέπει να κάνουμε, αλλά το ζητούμενο είναι η πολιτική βούληση για να επιτευχθεί ο στόχος αυτός. Επομένως, στις προσεχείς συνόδους των υπουργών τον Μάρτιο και στη Σύνοδο Κορυφής πρέπει να ληφθούν φιλόδοξα μέτρα και να τεθούν φιλόδοξοι στόχοι για την προστασία του κλίματος.

Από την άλλη μεριά, διαθέτουμε μια σειρά εργαλείων, όπως είναι το Ευρωπαϊκό Ταμείο Αλληλεγγύης, για τις καταστροφές που συμβαίνουν εξαιτίας της κλιματικής αλλαγής. Οι πόροι είναι περιορισμένοι και συνεπώς πρέπει να επενδυθούν με σωστό τρόπο. Για τον λόγο αυτό, πρέπει να προβλέπεται πάντα σχέδιο πρόληψης για να μην πληρώνουμε δύο φορές την ίδια καταστροφή. Πρέπει επίσης να εφαρμόζεται η αρχή του οικοσυστήματος για να αποκαθιστούμε τις ζημιές με λογικό τρόπο λαμβάνοντας υπόψη το κλίμα.

 
  
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  Francisco José Millán Mon (PPE). - Señor Presidente, la cadena de fuertes temporales de viento y lluvia de los últimos dos meses ha afectado seriamente a mi Comunidad Autónoma, Galicia, incluso con pérdida de vidas humanas.

El sector de la pesca ha sufrido importantes daños, también el del marisqueo; labradores y ganaderos se han visto perjudicados; puertos, carreteras, caminos rurales, paseos marítimos y playas han resultado asimismo dañados por estas persistentes tormentas de viento y mar.

Lamento que en esta Cámara se mienta, no se diga la verdad. Lo cierto es que el Gobierno español respondió. Respondió incluso cuando todavía había tormentas, y ya el 21 de este mes se aprobó un real decreto-ley —mencionado por la compañera Rosa Estaràs— para reparar daños causados en la fachada atlántica y en la costa cantábrica. Las autoridades regionales y locales también están tomando medidas y reaccionando.

Desde el Parlamento Europeo quiero mandar un mensaje de solidaridad a las personas afectadas y quiero también ―creo que es el momento― lanzar un mensaje de apoyo a la ponente, la señora Estaràs, que participa estos días en el trílogo que se ocupa de la modificación del Reglamento que regula el Fondo de Solidaridad, creado hace once años.

Es necesario superar las rigideces y fórmulas restrictivas existentes y facilitar así una mejor aplicación del Fondo a las catástrofes de dimensión regional.

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Davor Ivo Stier (PPE). - Gospodine predsjedniče, uvažavam vašu odluku, ali čini mi se da su neki govornici iza mene zatražili riječ, a ja sam samo htio prenijeti poziv na solidarnost građana iz Sisačko-moslavačke županije, Karlovačke županije i Gorskog kotara koje smo kolega Plenković i drugi kolega iz HDZ-a obišli, a htjeli smo prenijeti njihov poziv na solidarnost.

 
  
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  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. - Mr President, first I would like to thank you for your comments.

In recent years, the EU has significantly strengthened its efforts to support Member States in disaster risk prevention. As part of the EU disaster prevention framework, the Commission is developing, in cooperation with Member States, a number of initiatives including, in particular, risk assessment and risk management planning, exchange of good practices, peer reviews and data collection standards.

Strong synergies with climate adaptation action are pursued, and climate- and disaster-resilient investments supported, through the cohesion policy. Disaster risk prevention considerations have been integrated into a number of key EU policies such as transport and energy, health, environmental impact assessment, ecosystems, agriculture, food and nutrition security, flood risk management, major industrial accident prevention, and research and innovation.

Specifically for flood prevention: in 2015 Member States are expected to adopt Flood Risk Management Plans as required under the Floods Directive. The EU’s cohesion policy offers good opportunities to support working with nature to reduce flood risk by restoring floodplains and riparian areas, also known as green infrastructure.

The new Union Civil Protection Mechanism legislation, adopted in late 2013 by the Council and Parliament, significantly strengthens prevention actions and also puts obligations on Member States to prepare multi-hazard risk assessments and assessments of their risk management capabilities.

The Union Civil Protection Mechanism has also strengthened European cooperation in the field of disaster preparedness, including early warning systems, a 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre in Brussels, a pool of Member States’ disaster response capacities, and high EU co-financing for transporting assistance to the affected areas.

The Commission proposal to review the EU Solidarity Fund is currently in its final negotiation stages and I am confident that the new regulation can still be adopted by the legislators before Parliament goes into recess. The reform will make the Fund simpler to use, quicker to react and more visible to citizens.

Unfortunately it is clear that the budget resources of the Solidarity Fund are much more limited now than they were until last year, because the MFF decisions have reduced the Solidarity Fund from EUR[nbsp ]1 billion per year to EUR[nbsp ]500 million per year. It is all the more important, therefore, that Member States step up their prevention and preparedness efforts.

Considerable amounts of funding are available under the new financing period of the European Union Structural and Investment Funds where risk prevention is recognised as one of the priorities of the ERDF.

As I said, the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre, the EU Solidarity Fund and the multiple disaster risk prevention measures in place offer Member States a wide range of tools with which to face severe weather conditions. The Commission is working continuously to improve these tools.

Many of you raised the issue of the activation of the Solidarity Fund. First of all, I would like to explain that the Solidarity Fund is often mistaken for an emergency instrument. It was not conceived as such but is rather a financial instrument to help bear the financial burden inflicted on the country as a consequence of a major disaster. As such, it can help cover the cost of emergency operations retroactively from day one of the disaster.

As I said in my introduction, the Fund can only be activated once a Member State has submitted its application. If this is the case, of course the Commission will do everything possible to shorten the procedure to the absolute minimum.

 
  
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  President. - The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. – The extreme weather has caused massive damage to infrastructure and property across Ireland. However, the Irish Government announced recently that it was not going to apply for EU solidarity funding, in view of the fact that the expense of the damage incurred is below the threshold.

This decision is extremely hard to comprehend, as the fact of the matter is that the application submitted in 2009 following severe flooding the same year was also below the threshold. However, the then government submitted a regional-based application, which ultimately proved to be successful, as Ireland received EUR[nbsp ]13 million.

A comprehensive flood defence strategy for rural and coastal communities is also immediately required. This is an enormous challenge, with the cost difficult to estimate. We strongly urge the Irish Government to examine the possibility of securing finance to meet this cost at favourable rates of interest from the EIB.

We also call on the government to put in place a compensation scheme for the damage and loss suffered by all fishermen, who have had little or no income over the course of the last three months. Minister Coveney must also utilise funding under the EMFF, in addition to national funding.

 
  
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  Brian Crowley (ALDE), in writing. – The extreme weather has caused massive damage to infrastructure and property across Ireland. However, the Irish Government announced recently that it was not going to apply for EU solidarity funding, in view of the fact that the expense of the damage incurred is below the threshold.

This decision is extremely hard to comprehend, as the fact of the matter is that the application submitted in 2009 following severe flooding the same year was also below the threshold. However, the then government submitted a regional-based application, which ultimately proved to be successful, as Ireland received EUR[nbsp ]13 million.

A comprehensive flood defence strategy for rural and coastal communities is also immediately required. This is an enormous challenge, with the cost difficult to estimate. We strongly urge the Irish Government to examine the possibility of securing finance to meet this cost at favourable rates of interest from the EIB.

We also call on the government to put in place a compensation scheme for the damage and loss suffered by all fishermen, who have had little or no income over the course of the last three months. Minister Coveney must also utilise funding under the EMFF, in addition to national funding.

 
  
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  Jill Evans (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Wales has been badly hit by the extreme weather in recent months, particularly the coastal areas. I have seen this for myself in Tenby, Aberystwyth and Barmouth in the past weeks and heard from local councillors of the long-term implications for the economy and the environment. Local authorities have responded effectively as far as they are able. Since the first storms I have been asking the Welsh Government to explore every possible option to help communities recover and rebuild, including the EU Solidarity Fund. The aim of the EUSF is to help respond quickly to natural disasters, so this is the right time for the UK Government to apply to the EU for this emergency funding. Unfortunately the UK, as the Member State government, has to make the application. At the same time the Welsh Government must to do all in its power to persuade the UK to apply. This is much bigger than pro- or anti-EU feelings. It is about putting people and communities first. I believe in making Europe work for Wales, and there is no better way of doing that than by offering support at this time of crisis. That is what real European solidarity means.

 
  
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  Gaston Franco (PPE), par écrit. Je me félicite que les conséquences des intempéries qui ont secoué l'Europe ces dernières semaines aient pu enfin être inscrites à l'ordre du jour de cette session parlementaire. L'urgence et l'ampleur des dégâts rendent l'intervention de l'Union européenne plus que nécessaire dans de nombreuses régions d'Europe notamment dans les départements français du Var et des Alpes-Maritimes où l'état de catastrophe naturelle a été déclaré dans des dizaines de communes suite aux intempéries du mois de janvier. Le Fonds de Solidarité de l'Union européenne (FSUE) peut intervenir mais la demande doit venir des États membres. J'exhorte donc la France à solliciter le FSUE afin que le dossier puisse être traité par la Commission dans les plus brefs délais.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – The extreme weather has caused massive damage to infrastructure and property across Ireland. However, the Irish Government announced recently that it was not going to apply for EU solidarity funding, in view of the fact that the expense of the damage incurred is below the threshold.

This decision is extremely hard to comprehend, as the fact of the matter is that the application submitted in 2009 following severe flooding the same year was also below the threshold. However, the then government submitted a regional-based application, which ultimately proved to be successful, as Ireland received EUR[nbsp ]13 million.

A comprehensive flood defence strategy for rural and coastal communities is also immediately required. This is an enormous challenge, with the cost difficult to estimate. We strongly urge the Irish Government to examine the possibility of securing finance to meet this cost at favourable rates of interest from the EIB.

We also call on the government to put in place a compensation scheme for the damage and loss suffered by all fishermen, who have had little or no income over the course of the last three months. Minister Coveney must also utilise funding under the EMFF, in addition to national funding.

 
  
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  Γεώργιος Σταυρακάκης (S&D), γραπτώς. – Kαταρχάς, θα ήθελα να εκφράσω την αλληλεγγύη μου με τους πολίτες που πλήττονται από τις δυσμενείς καιρικές συνθήκες. H πρόληψη στον τομέα της αντιμετώπισης των φυσικών καταστροφών είναι ύψιστης σημασίας καθώς είναι λιγότερο κοστοβόρα από ό,τι η αντιμετώπισή τους. Γι' αυτό είναι απαραίτητο να υπάρχουν κοινή στρατηγική και συντονισμένες ενέργειες που μπορούν να οδηγήσουν σε πραγματική πρόοδο στον τομέα της πρόληψης καταστροφών. Επίσης, πρέπει να καταστεί σαφές ότι οι τοπικές και οι περιφερειακές αρχές διαδραματίζουν ζωτικό ρόλο στον κύκλο διαχείρισης των καταστροφών και οφείλουν να έχουν ενεργό συμμετοχή στο σχεδιασμό και την εφαρμογή των στρατηγικών μείωσης του κινδύνου και πρόληψης των καταστροφών. Τέλος, δεν μπορώ να μην αναφερθώ στις τρέχουσες διαπραγματεύσεις για την μεταρρύθμιση του Ταμείου Αλληλεγγύης της ΕΕ. Στόχος μας είναι να ολοκληρωθούν οι διαπραγματεύσεις στην τρέχουσα κοινοβουλευτική θητεία για να καταστεί το Ταμείο πιο αποτελεσματικό και ευέλικτο. Σε αυτή τη κατεύθυνση, υποστηρίζω την εισαγωγή κριτηρίου για τις περιφερειακές καταστροφές αλλά με κατώτατο όριο ενεργοποίησης στο 1% του περιφερειακού AΕΠ. Επίσης, χαιρετίζω την καθιέρωση της δυνατότητας προκαταβολών κατόπιν αιτήσεως της πληγείσας χώρας για την πιο έγκαιρη και άμεση αντιμετώπιση των συνεπειών των καταστροφών.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), por escrito. As más condições meteorológicas têm vindo a ser uma constante em vários Estados-Membros da União. Em Portugal, as zonas costeiras foram, nos últimos meses, fortemente assoladas por uma vaga de severas tempestades, de ventos intensos e de uma forte ondulação marítima, que tiveram como consequências várias inundações e diversos danos físicos e materiais. Dado que este tipo de fenómeno é cada vez mais frequente e que os seus efeitos são cada vez mais sentidos junto das nossas populações, é urgente que a União Europeia defina como melhor providenciar apoio. Este tipo de desastres naturais deveria ser coberto pelo Fundo de Solidariedade da União Europeia, cuja reforma está, neste momento, em curso e deveria existir uma estratégia europeia no sentido de reprogramação dos fundos estruturais para cobrir a reparação dos danos causados por tais intempéries.

 
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