Today, on the 1st March, we celebrate the World Civil Defence Day. As a MEP, I would like to take this opportunity to salute all firemen, soldiers and other volunteers that participated in last month?s civil defence activities. We are happy to have you with us, willing to help the citizens of Slovenia. Without you, many of them would have been cut away from the rest of the world during last month?s severe weather and left to fend for themselves.
It is important that we stand side by side during times of difficulties and help one another, both inside our homeland and on the European level. The news of the damage caused by the terrible weather and ice storm in Slovenia also spread inside the European Parliament. With the help of the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre, Slovenia swiftly received aid from neighbouring states. Emergency electricity generation from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland and other countries restored power to thousands across Slovenia.
To help repair the damage caused by the floods in autumn 2012, Slovenia also received a 14 million ? aid package from the EU Solidarity Fund. We are truly grateful for this support, as it helped mitigate the horrific consequences of the floods. In November 2012, I pushed forward a proposal for a resolution in the European Parliament, putting focus on Slovenia and its needs for financial aid. However, even with EU assistance, we would not have made it without the support of members of civil defence, who, once again, played a crucial role in helping our citizens.
This is why we should use today?s occasion to thank each other and the civil defence, as well as all EU countries that have come to our aid in times of need. It is in this spirit of successful intervention and solidarity that I wish you all a happy World Civil Defence Day!
The main role of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection is to facilitate co-operation in civil protection assistance interventions in the event of major emergencies which may require urgent response actions. Its participants are not only the 28 EU Member States, but also Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and FYRM. Affected countries can ask for support and by pooling the civil protection capabilities of the participating states, the Community Mechanism can ensure even better protection primarily of people, but also of the natural and cultural environment, as well as property.
The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up to respond to major natural disasters and express European solidarity to disaster-stricken regions within Europe. 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 56 disasters covering a range of different catastrophic events including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought. 23 different European countries have been supported so far for an amount of more than 3.5 billion ?.
The EUSF can provide financial aid to Member States and countries engaged in accession negotiations in the event of a major natural disaster if total direct damage caused by the disaster exceeds ?3 billion at 2002 prices or 0.6% of the country’s gross national income, whichever is the lower. The current threshold for Slovenia is 209.587 ?.