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Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - Strasbourg
Recent floods in Europe

European Parliament resolution of 3 July 2013 on the floods in Europe (2013/2683(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 191 and 196(1) 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, to the Commission Communication on the future of the European Union Solidarity Fund (COM(2011)0613), and to its resolution of 15 January 2013 on the European Solidarity Fund, implementation and application(1),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 5 September 2002 on floods in Europe(2), of 8 September 2005 on natural disasters (fires and floods) in Europe(3), of 18 May 2006 on natural disasters (forest fires, droughts and floods) – agricultural aspects(4), regional development aspects(5) and environmental aspects(6), of 7 September 2006 on forest fires and floods(7), of 17 June 2010 on the floods in central European countries, in particular Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary(8), and of 11 March 2010 on the major natural disasters in the autonomous region of Madeira and the effects of the storm ‘Xynthia’ in Europe(9),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper entitled ‘Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action’ (COM(2009)0147), to the Commission Communication on a Community approach on the prevention of natural and man-made disasters (COM(2009)0082), and to the Commission Communication entitled ’Towards a stronger European disaster response: the role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance’ (COM(2010)0600),

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document entitled ‘Regions 2020 – an assessment of future challenges for EU regions’ (SEC(2008)2868),

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas a major natural disaster has recently occurred in the form of floods in many European countries including Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, France and Spain;

B.  whereas the frequency, severity, complexity and impact of natural and man-made disasters across Europe has increased rapidly in recent years;

C.  whereas the floods caused serious damage to cities, towns and municipalities, to infrastructure and businesses, and to agriculture and rural areas, and whereas they destroyed elements of natural and cultural heritage, as well as causing death and injury and forcing thousands of people to leave their homes;

D.  whereas the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was established in order to deal with major national disasters and to provide financial assistance to disaster-stricken states;

E.  whereas sustainable reconstruction of the areas destroyed or damaged by the disasters must be undertaken in order to remedy their economic, social and environmental losses;

F.  whereas the European Union’s prevention capacity to tackle all types of natural disaster needs to be enhanced, and whereas the operability of and coordination between the various Union instruments needs to be improved in order to achieve sustainable disaster prevention;

G.  whereas some mountainous areas, and areas along rivers and valleys, have lost part of their water-absorption capacity as a result of unsustainable deforestation, intensive agriculture, large infrastructure construction projects, urbanisation and soil sealing along these rivers and valleys;

1.  Expresses its empathy and solidarity with the inhabitants of the Member States, regions and municipalities affected by the disaster; takes into consideration their serious economic effects and pays its respects and condolences to the families of the victims;

2.  Appreciates the relentless efforts made by the safety and civil protection units, rescue teams and volunteers to save lives and minimise damage in the areas affected;

3.  Applauds the actions of the Member States that provided assistance to the areas affected, as European solidarity is exemplified by mutual assistance in adverse situations;

4.  Stresses that soil degradation, driven or exacerbated by human activity, such as inappropriate agricultural and forestry practices, damages the capacity of soil to continue to perform in full its crucial function of preventing natural disasters;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to pay particular attention to planning and reviewing sustainable land use policies, ecosystem absorption capacities and best practices and to increasing the capacity of flood-control and drainage systems;

6.  Stresses that effective flood prevention must be targeted at interregional and cross-border risk management strategies, where there is great potential for coordination and for implementing an enhanced joint emergency response;

7.  Acknowledges that the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism helped Member States to cooperate and minimise the effects of the emergency; calls on the Commission and the Member States to simplify the rules and procedures for activation of the Mechanism;

8.  Highlights the opportunity under the European Territorial Cooperation objective for Member States and the regions concerned to target risk management as an investment priority for the forthcoming programming period currently under negotiation, and calls on them to do so;

9.  Stresses that flood prevention programmes need to be implemented by the Member States through comprehensive and preventive strategies; emphasises that emergency policy, including emergency prevention and emergency response, requires the closer involvement of regions, cities and local communities, which should be encouraged to include emergency policy in their strategies;

10.  Calls on the Council and the Commission – as soon as they receive all the necessary applications from the Member States – to take all the necessary steps to ensure that rapid, adequate financial assistance is provided from the EUSF; stresses how urgent it is for financial assistance to be released through the EUSF to the countries affected by this natural disaster;

11.  Calls on the Commission to draft a new, simplified EUSF regulation which would, inter alia, enable the Commission to make down-payments as soon as the affected Member State has applied for assistance;

12.  Highlights the fact that investment in flood prevention under the relevant programmes requires adequate financial resources, as it is an important tool in enabling the governments of the Member States to develop and implement flood prevention policies; stresses that investment in support of disaster prevention should follow an eco-system-based approach;

13.  Expresses its view that the consequences of disasters have a negative impact on the drawing-down of EU funds; calls for the necessary flexibility to be brought to bear as regards re-programming in the Member States in support of the reconstruction of deprived areas and the selection of the most suitable projects;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, and regional and local authorities in the affected areas.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0003.
(2) OJ C 272 E, 13.11.2003, p. 471.
(3) OJ C 193 E, 17.8.2006, p. 322.
(4) OJ C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 363.
(5) OJ C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 369.
(6) OJ C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 375.
(7) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 240.
(8) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 128.
(9) OJ C 349 E, 22.12.2010, p. 88.

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