European Commission delivers 2007 the EU Solidarity Fund 2007 Annual report

The Annual report, published on November, 12th, 2008, presents the activities of the EU Solidarity Fund in 2007 covering, as in previous reports, three areas: the treatment of new applications received in the course of 2007, monitoring of the ongoing implementation of grants, and the assessment of implementation reports with a view to preparing these for closure.

The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up on November, 15th, 2002, to enable the Community to respond in a rapid, efficient and flexible manner to urgent situations. This instrument should be complementary to the efforts of the States concerned and be used to cover a share of the public expenditure committed to dealing with the damage caused by a major disaster. Following the provisions provided by the Solidarity Fund Regulation, the Commission delivers every year a report on the activity of the Fund in the previous, and presents it to the European Parliament and to the Council.

The Commission received a total of 19 new applications in 2007, the highest number of applications in one year since the Fund was set up. Only four of these applications related to a major natural disaster. The other 15 applications were presented under the regional disaster criteria, whereby nine of these applications had to be declared not admissible as they were presented outside the 10 week application period laid down in the Regulation.

The new applications received in 2007, once again confirmed the general trend by which the majority of applications for Solidarity Fund assistance are not presented for major disasters which represent the main scope of the Fund, but under the exceptional criteria for regional disasters. These criteria, which according to the Regulation are to be examined by the Commission “with the utmost rigour”, are still relatively difficult to meet. The rate of unsuccessful applications for the regional (exceptional) criteria, at almost two-thirds, continues to be high. For major disaster applications for which only a single quantitative criterion applies, the positive assessments have so far a rate of 100%.

Proposal for a New Solidarity Fund Regulation

In 2007, Member States and the Commission have once again invested considerable time and effort in, respectively, preparing and assessing applications for smaller regional disasters that regularly lead to rejections. One of the major changes in the Commission's proposal of April, 6th, 2005 for a new Solidarity Fund Regulation is therefore to resort only to quantitative thresholds for the level of damage required to trigger utilization of the Fund, which would improve the transparency of the Fund. This would help to avoid considerable efforts of preparing applications which are  subsequently rejected because the exceptional criteria are very difficult to meet.

With the new Solidarity Fund regulation, the national authorities would have a clearer idea of when the Fund is likely to be able to support them in recovering from a disaster.

In 2007, the Commission undertook a series of attempts to convince Member States and in particular the incoming German and Portuguese Council presidencies to relaunch the debate on the Commission's proposal for a new Solidarity Fund Regulation, which had been largely supported in the European Parliament. However, by the end of 2007 no progress was made in the Council.

2007 Financing under EUSF

The two cases from 2006 for which the budget procedure had not yet been completed before the end of the year (floods in Hungary and Greece) were dealt with in one single amending budget. Preliminary Draft Amending Budget Nº 2/2007 was approved by the Budgetary Authority on June, 7th, 2007. The payments could be made after adoption of the grant decision and after the implementation agreement was signed.

In 2007 the Fund was mobilised for two new cases (storm "Kyrill" in Germany; cyclone "Gamède" in France/La Réunion). The amounts of aid in each case were determined on the basis of the standard method previously developed by the Commission and explained in detail in the 2002/2003 annual report. Amending Budget Nº 6/2007 was approved by the Budgetary Authority on October, 24th, 2007. The payments could be made after adoption of the grant decision and after the implementation agreement was signed

Amounts of aid in 2007

  • Hungary: Major Flooding disaster: 15,063,587 €
  • Greece: Regional Flooding disaster: 9,306,527 €
  • Germany: Major Storm disaster: 166,905,985 €
  • France (La Réunion): Regional/Ultraperipheral Tropical cyclone disaster: 5,290,000 €

For applications from the United Kingdom (Floods), Greece (Forest Fires), Slovenia (Floods) and France/Martinique (Hurricane DEAN) received in 2007, the budget procedures could not be completed before the end of the year. For these applications the Commission presented Preliminary Draft Amending Budgets Nº 1/20084 and Nº 3/20085 which were approved by the Budgetary Authority on April, 9th, 2008 and June, 5th, 2008 respectively, and Preliminary Draft Amending Budget Nº 7/2008. The annual report of next year will report on them.