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The EU Offers Greece €2.25 Billion to Recover From Deadly Floods

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The EU Offers Greece €2.25 Billion to Recover From Deadly Floods. “Europe stands at the side of the Greek people,” The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. Credit: EmDee / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Greece will receive up to €2.25 billion ($2.4 billion) in EU funds in an effort to recover from last week’s devastating floods and the deadly fires in Evros, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday.

“I am simply appalled by the recent disaster that has struck Greece and its people,” she said at a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was in Strasbourg with a delegation of ministers, where he was meeting with European officials to discuss support measures for the country.

“Europe stands at the side of the Greek people,” she said.

“A lot of investment will be necessary to rebuild, but right now a lot of immediate support and help is needed to restore the livelihoods,” von der Leyen said. “We will mobilize all the EU resources that can be deployed.”

“If we look at those funds, they could, for example, help restore forests or farming infrastructure. A lot needs to be done. Altogether, this could allow Greece to mobilize up to 2.25 billion euros,” Von der Leyen said.

“I am simply appalled by the recent disasters that struck Greece and its people….floods have devastated large regions of Greece,” the European Commission President said. “For example, the plains of Thessaly. The pictures from Larissa are heartbreaking. Let me assure you that our thoughts are with all women, men and children who are courageously withstanding these disasters. And we mourn the lives lost.”

Greece suffered major disasters in floods and wildfires

Mitsotakis pointed out the gravity of the situation and the fact that Greece had suffered two very major disasters in one month—the huge fire in Evros, which was the largest in the history of Europe, followed by Storm Daniel and the worst floods in the history of the country and of Europe.

He showed photographs of flooded areas before and after, noting that destruction of this sort has never been seen before. He also stressed that the priority was to protect people’s lives and property.

“Our priority is for them to return to their homes, their businesses—and we rely on Europe’s support,” he said. “Fortunately our economy is in a very good state and we are able to cover the immediate needs without deviating from budget targets.”

Mitsotakis said that there were European funds that have not been used and part of this support will be received by people in the coming weeks.

The European funds would come from unspent and front-loaded cohesion money, from the European Social Fund Plus and from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) fund.

A week after the passing of Storm Daniel, which claimed the lives of at least sixteen people and caused destruction in Central Greece, Thessaly, the agricultural heartland of the country, remains flooded.

In a similar vein, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola stressed that “Greece should not be alone in dealing with a situation that should be addressed by Europe as a whole.”

“In the worst moments, the Greeks must see the best face of Europe,” she said on Tuesday during a meeting with Mitsotakis.

“As far as the budget and resources are concerned, any decision that needs to be taken by the parliament will be taken as soon as possible,” Metsola added. “Because we know that this is a major disaster linked to the climate crisis and requires unprecedented efficiency and assistance.”

EU emergency support for Greece fires, floods

Greece will receive assistance from the EU emergency support fund for natural disasters over the summer, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said.

He explained that the EU has an emergency fund for the support of regions coping with natural disasters, the European Union Solidarity Fund, to which member-states have three months to submit an estimate of the economic damage sustained.

“I am certain that the European Commission will endeavor to support through this emergency support fund and not only that, Greece’s efforts to deal with this new crisis,” he said.

Pointing out that Greece had to deal with both destructive wildfires and floods during the summer, he noted that such phenomena indicated the extreme weather crisis Europe now faces.

Asked how soon the EU financial assistance will be disbursed, Gentiloni said that some funds will be available from the current year but in a more restricted way, with more substantial assistance the following year.

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