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The EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up in November 2002 as a result of the extreme flooding disaster that hit Central Europe in the summer of 2002. The purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to the regions of Europe in dealing with an extraordinary “major” or “regional” disaster of natural causes, including severe flooding. The fund is specifically targeted at support for emergency relief action, cleaning up and getting destroyed infrastructure back into working order. Match funding is not required under the EUSF.
Before a member state can apply for support from the fund, the total amount of damages incurred in a major disaster must exceed a specific level. The EUSF’s eligibility threshold for what are termed “National Level Disasters” is for all damages, insurable and uninsurable, to exceed €3 billion (2002 prices) or 0.6 per cent. of the affected country’s Gross National Income (GNI), whichever is the lower, in order to qualify for assistance. The UK current estimate for total damage suffered in the June and July floods is €4 billion (£2.9 billion).
An application for support from the EUSF in respect of the June and July flooding in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was lodged with the Commission on 20 August and is currently being discussed with them. The application is not a bid as it will be for the Commission to decide whether, and if so at what level, support will be offered. Applications by other member states to the EUSF have resulted in offers of support ranging between 2.5 per cent. and 5 per cent. of the total damage suffered.