EU Assistance : And what about the Zagreb earthquake?

 

The central EU funds can be allocated only if the damage caused by a natural disaster exceeds 2 percent of national GDP. In Croatia  that amount had been estimated at 8 billion kuna (1.1 billion euro). 
 

The earthquake damage estimates in Zagreb have not yet been finalized.
 

Despite gross destruction, the devastation did not take on the magnitude of the catastrophe. A 15 years old was killed, but there were no other victims. The Zagreb earthquake does not automatically rank in the same order as it did in the much smaller Italian city of Aquila in 2009. Likewise, as it happened in the midst of dramatic news about the coronavirus emergency it seems that it did not receive  attention in international media, but also not in the European Commission empty corridors now when diplomats and experts are working from their homes.

 

The key criteria for withdrawal of EU Solidarity Fund (FSEU), originally established to help EU member countries hit by natural disasters is the overall amount of damage. 

 

There is still a possibility for Croatia to request that part of the damage caused by the earthquake could be earmarked from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI), where there is  unspent money from the current Financial perspective. 

The European Commission has made those unspent ESI funds available for fighting the corona crisis. An exception may be requested due to a special situation and a part could be allocated for earthquake repair. However, most of the ESI funds available to Croatia have already been contracted.

 

There is also a recently announced package of measures to help revive the post-corona crisis economy for Member states.  For Croatia that sum is at over one billion euros. As the European Commission has advised and is ready for great flexibility in allocations, there may be room for that. The two crisis in Zagreb are happening simultaneously and one is aggravated by another.

 

The President  of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has ordered a great deal of flexibility in the allocation of funds, all with the aim of boosting the economy and mitigating the crisis as much as possible. It is not impossible for this logic to be applied in Croatia as well and the possibilities are still being explored.

 

The European Union Solidarity Fund (FSEU) has been established in 2002. with the aim to help countries affected by large-scale disasters and was used to cope with 80 disasters covering a range of natural calamities including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and droughts. So far, 24 member states and candidate countries have received support which now exceed € 5 billion.