A DELEGATION of EU officials is due to visit flood-affected areas across the south and west in the coming weeks to determine if Ireland qualifies for emergency funding to cope with the aftermath of the flooding crisis.
Irish MEPs have urged the government to apply immediately for up to €26 million in aid under the EU Solidarity Fund, set up in 2002 to help countries deal with severe flooding and other natural disasters.
However to be eligible for funding, the cost of the damage must exceed 6 per cent of a country’s Gross Domestic Income – in Ireland’s case, €972 million.
Munster MEPs Brian Crowley, Alan Kelly and Sean Kelly have called on the European Commission to be pragmatic and lower the eligibility threshold for Ireland. ‘It’s impossible to put a cost on the damage at this stage, but in Cork alone it must be in the region of €1 billion when one takes in the closure of the central business district,’ said Mr Kelly. They also pointed out the clause in EU legislation that says that ‘under extraordinary circumstances’ aid may be given to regional areas that experience extreme flooding.
In response, the EU’s Regional Commissioner Pawel Samecki agreed that the flooding in Ireland had created ‘a dramatic situation with many severe and sad consequences for people affected’. He indicated that he would send a delegation to carry an on-the-spot assessment of the damage. If the EU decides Ireland qualifies for aid, the government must apply to the fund within ten weeks.