EU Solidarity Fund CAN be accessed to address flooding damage - Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called on the Irish Government to make an application under the EU solidarity fund for financial assistance in the wake of damage caused by Storm Desmond. A failure for the government to apply, as they failed to do in 2014, would be unforgivable, he said.
The Sinn Féín MEP stated:
“The EU solidarity fund is available to member states of the EU affected by a natural disaster. In normal cases the damage caused must meet a particular threshold in order to qualify as a national disaster – damage must be in excess of €3 billion of more that 0.6% of the gross national income of the state.
“However, funding is also available to certain regions (NUTS II) under the EU Solidarity Fund in exceptional circumstances provided a disaster that results in damage in excess of 1.5% of that region’s GDP– Ireland has three such regions, the Border, Midlands and Western Region, the Southern and Eastern Region and the six counties in the north.
“In 2009, Ireland successfully availed of €13 million from the EUSF on a regional basis despite the fact that the total damage caused did not meet the threshold to qualify as a national disaster.
“As well as that the relevant EU legislation has been amended to allow the Solidarity Fund to be accessed not only for immediate relief but also potentially for the securing of flood defences and future protection of cultural heritage from storm damage.
“In 2014, the current Government did not even apply for funding under this fund despite the fact that works amounting to €2 billion would be required in coming years for flooding hotspots. A similar failure on this occasion would be unforgivable.
“Indeed the Budget for the Capital Budget of the OPW’s Flood Risk Management Programme has been cut by 25% in Budget 2016, demonstrating an alarming level of short sightedness on the part of this Government.
“Given the extensive storm damage caused in this region in particular, the Irish Government must make a regional application on behalf of the Border, Midlands and Western Region to the EU Solidarity Fund without delay, while exploring the possibility of funds for relief across the country.”