European Union Solidarity Fund

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Series Details PE 696.193
Publication Date September 2021
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Established in 2002 to support disaster-stricken regions, the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) complements the efforts of public authorities by helping to fund vital emergency and recovery operations in areas affected by catastrophes such as flooding, earthquakes and forest fires. EUSF funding is granted following an application from a Member State or candidate country, and may be used to finance measures including restoring infrastructure to working order, providing temporary accommodation and cleaning up disaster areas.

Although the EUSF Regulation was revised in 2014, simplifying rules and clarifying eligibility criteria, several problems still remain. European Commission reports on the EUSF have drawn attention to the long waiting time countries still face before receiving EUSF funding, while industry experts also point to the risk that the EUSF could run out of funding in the event of several large disasters taking place within a short space of time. The coronavirus pandemic has placed the EUSF under the spotlight once again, with the scope of the EUSF Regulation extended in March 2020 to cover support in the event of a major public health emergency, and 17 Member States plus three candidate countries receiving vital assistance. The European Parliament has been actively involved in recent discussions on the EUSF, adopting a resolution on the review of the EUSF in May 2021 which included several measures aimed at improving its operations, and preparing a report on the effectiveness of Member States' use of EUSF money in cases of natural disasters.

While the 2014 revision of the EUSF Regulation and the widening of its scope in 2020 have borne fruit, allowing the EUSF to provide unprecedented levels of support after the 2016/2017 earthquakes in Italy, ensuring much needed assistance in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the EUSF will undergo a number of changes during 2021-2027. In particular, the merger of the EUSF with the Emergency Aid Reserve as part of the new Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, with a combined budget of €1.2 billion for both instruments, raises questions as to whether the EUSF will be able to continue to provide such effective levels of disaster recovery assistance in future. The July 2021 floods in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and the recent forest fires in Cyprus, Greece and Italy are a potent reminder of the EU's vulnerability in the face of the unpredictable forces of nature.

Further information:

Please find the latest update of this EPRS Briefing under Primary Source. The previous versions can be found under Related Links.

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EPRS: Briefing, June 2018: European Union Solidarity Fund
EPRS: January 2017: European Union Solidarity Fund

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