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Parliamentary questions
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6 September 2012
E-007898/2012
Question for written answer E-007898/2012
to the Commission
Rule 117
Luis Yáñez-Barnuevo García (S&D)

 Subject: Forest fires in Spain
 Answer in writing 

Forest fires are unfortunately an annual occurrence in Spain, particularly during the summer months. However, this year has seen more fires than any other in the previous decade.

The first eight months of the year alone has already seen the destruction of 150 000 hectares of forested land, a figure three times that recorded in 2011. The most recent major fire in the Malaga area of the Costa del Sol destroyed 8 000 hectares of woodland, with many residential areas and their inhabitants affected as a result.

In our view, the situation has been made worse this year by decisions, taken since Mr Rajoy's Government took office in December 2011, to cut, one after the other, most of the budgetary items that were approved and implemented during the previous decade to prevent fires and improve the methods used to contain them.

The Government's policy of budget cuts has led to a systematic reduction in provision for forestry maintenance and monitoring activities, and for equipment and other resources for the forestry services, firefighters, Civil Guard, and national and local police forces, among others. Legal instruments approved by previous governments, such as the Law on the Sustainable Development of Rural Areas, the Forestry Law, or services which have proven effective such as the Military Emergency Response Unit, have thus been rendered ineffective.

Combined with the fact that the winter and spring were very dry and that this summer has been particularly hot, it was foreseeable that there would be more fires than in previous years. Unfortunately, however, the problem has reached epic proportions, with almost all regions of the country affected (whilst the governments of the autonomous communities are an easy target, they are no more culpable than anybody else).

In such circumstances, the Spanish people would expect the EU to play an important role.

1. Has the Spanish Government requested support from the EU Solidarity Fund this year? If so, what was the Commission's response?

2. What other resources does the Commission have to help prevent and tackle wildfires?

3. Has the Spanish Government asked for the Civil Protection Mechanism to be activated? If so, when?

4. Does the Commission intend to allocate more resources to civil protection, adaptation and forestry protection policies in order to prevent such fires from breaking out in the EU?

5. Has it put forward any legislative proposals on forest fire prevention that include provisions relating to the funding of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS)?

6. Does it intend to ensure that the EU Solidarity Fund is given greater flexibility so that it can respond to such disasters?

Original language of question: ESOJ C 308 E, 23/10/2013
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