There are crisis situations caused by natural disasters that are really unavoidable such as fires, floods, earthquakes, droughts and storms. These are sudden disasters that can have a devastating effect on human lives in every sense – the economy, the city’s infrastructure and the general future of the affected community. In these large-scale crisis situations, the community in which we find ourselves plays a big role, including the community which surpasses borders of the cities and home countries. In such moments, the importance of European solidarity comes to the fore.
European Union Solidarity Fund – a body which is always ready to show solidarity
One of the significant ways in which European solidarity comes to the fore is the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), which was established for the purpose of repairing damage caused by natural disasters, specifically expression and practice of European solidarity towards European Union member states. The Fund was established on 11th November 2002 as a response to the devastating and catastrophic floods that affected Central European countries during the summer of the same year.
Since then, the Fund’s resources have been used to help and support in case of 80 crisis caused by disasters affecting 24 different European countries – including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and droughts. Help came in the form of financial support in the total amount of 5 billion euros. And this is not the end of the Fund’s activities and stories, that is a body that is always ready to give an answer and show solidarity.
Assistance from the Fund is provided in the form of non-refundable funds intended to finance measures which have a goal of reducing damage that is unescapable and cannot be prevented. There are several emergency measures for which funds can be obtained, and they relate to:
Use of funds for the purpose of recovery of the European Community
Taking into consideration that these are large and significant amounts of funds, it is necessary to follow a certain procedure when applying for them. Therefore, the Member State of the European Union must submit request for the funds within 12 weeks of the first disaster. The request should have an estimated of the direct damage caused by the natural disaster and its consequences on the population, economy, environment and estimated amount of planned measures and other possible sources of financing.
Once the application is accepted, the affected country received the financial help immediately. After that, the state itself is responsible for the implementation, revision and control of the funds. The funds must be used within 18 months and the unused funds must be returned. In that way the Fund ensures the transparency and the use of the financial support for the purposes for which it was truly intended – the recovery of the European Community.
European solidarity with Croatia
Croatia was affected by several floods and in 2010 received its first aid from the Fund. The floods caused unforgettable material damage, but most importantly, affected many individuals, families and communities who found themselves in an unlikely situation. In that and any similar crisis, European solidarity is unavoidable and becomes imperative. By the end of 2019, Croatia had been provided with resources of 22.8 million euros to repair damages caused by the floods in certain areas.
Financial help has been allocated in 5 occasions due to floods and Croatia can expect to receive more support from the Fund due to the recent natural disaster – earthquake. In March 2020 the city of Zagreb and its surrounding territory were hit by the strongest earthquake in the last 140 years. The devastating earthquake has left its mark on many homes and public spaces as well as human lives. The damage has to be repaired as soon as possible and the European Union Solidarity Fund will play a major role in this, which according to the announcements, should pay non-refundable funds to Croatia after the approved application and estimated damage.
For those who wants to know more
The story always goes on, and only solidarity is further shared
According to all the above, it is clear that the European Union Solidarity Fund is a very important body when taking care of the community we live in comes in question. So far, many may not have been familiar with the Fund’s activities, which is not necessarily a bad thing because it just means that there was no need for it, but it is always nice to hear stories of European solidarity in action. The story always goes on, and only solidarity is further shared.