UK to bid for EU cash to help victims of winter floods


The UK will bid for European Union cash to help victims of the winter floods, the Government has announced.

Communities Minister James Wharton said the UK has confirmed its intention to apply for aid from the EU solidarity fund in relation to Storm Desmond and Storm Eva.

Labour said the announcement is "extremely welcome".

Mr Wharton, replying to an urgent question from Labour in the Commons, said the application would be the UK's first since flooding in 2007.

The Conservative minister said: "I am today announcing that the UK Government will make an application to the European Union solidarity fund (EUSF).

"The EUSF was set up to respond to major natural disasters. The fund was created as a reaction to the severe floods in central Europe in the summer of 2002.

"Since then it has been used for 70 disasters covering a range of different catastrophic events, including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought.

"The only time the UK has applied to the fund was following the flooding of 2007, which saw widespread and significant damage across large swathes of England."

MPs have previously heard the deadline for the UK to declare its intent to bid for funding was the end of February.

Mr Wharton said the EU aid is not designed to offer "rapid response" support and can take several months to complete.

He told MPs: "Member states have 12 weeks from the start of an incident to register their intent to claim.

"We have confirmed our intent. Once you have confirmed it, there is time to consider with the commission the element to assessment.

"Following this process the commission assesses the application and, if the application is accepted, proposes an amount of aid to the European Parliament.

"Once the appropriations become available in the EU budget, the commission adopts a decision awarding the aid to the affected state.

"It is then paid out in a single instalment. When aid is paid out, the affected state is responsible for the implementation - including the selection of operations and their audit and control."