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EU rethinks response to natural disasters

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EU auditors called on the European Commission to clarify rules on financing “temporary accommodation” following natural disasters on 25 February. The call comes as a result of a report examining the events following the April 2009 earthquake that hit the Italian Abruzzi region and its capital city of L’Aquila, leaving 67,500 people homeless.

As Ville Itälä, the ECA member responsible for the report, stated: “There were weaknesses in advance planning, even though Abruzzi is in one of the most earthquake-prone areas in Europe. I am glad that the Commission will use the opportunity of the forthcoming review of the EU Solidarity Fund Regulation to not only clarify ‘temporary accommodation, but also to encourage at-risk Member States to put real preparedness plans in place. This will help EU natural disaster response tremendously.”

In November 2009, the European Union contributed € 0.5 billion to the Italian emergency operations from its European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to help with immediate restoration of infrastructure and to help citizens. However, EU auditors found that the CASE project which used 70% of the funding in order to address the actual needs of the population did not comply with specific provisions of the EUSF Regulation. This was because it constructed new permanent buildings instead of temporary houses.

As a result, the ECA recommends that the Commission should consider adapting the EUSF Regulation to the recent developments in disaster-response strategies, encourage member states to improve their emergency preparedness to respond immediately and effectively to any disaster and promote the design and implementation of emergency projects.

Source : - 25 février 2013 - Elena Ralli
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