Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023
Brussels, 25 May 2023

Thank you very much for hosting me here and giving me the opportunity to fly with a helicopter over the area that is affected. It is heartbreaking to see that, to see the floods, the water, the land underwater, covered by water, but also to see the mud and these deep scars of the manifold landslides.

So indeed, it was very helpful to see from above the width of the damage and the devastation but also the very different problems that it causes. This is a region which, as President Bonaccini told me, is economically very successful. Emilia-Romagna has a long history, a rich history. So it is all the more painful to see how deep the destruction and the devastation in this region is. So basically, I am here to send one clear message and that is: ‘Tin bòta. L’Europa è con voi.’

It is for us of course a matter of solidarity to have triggered immediately the Civil Protection Mechanism. As you said, nine Member States immediately volunteered to help. There are water pumps here from France, Belgium, Slovakia, Slovenia. More than 100 people came to work with these water pumps. That is European solidarity at its best.

But I am also deeply impressed by the hundreds of volunteers that came here, the angels in the mud. It was amazing to see the positive impact that solidarity can have. It was great to see that.

At the moment, we have, first of all, to work together on the first urgency and emergency. But of course, we have been speaking about help and support from the European Union. And indeed, I have seen the land devastated. So, it is a disaster for many farmers. Therefore, the agricultural crisis reserve has to be triggered. That is point number one.

But then indeed, the Solidarity Fund is I think appropriate to support here. We know that for the Solidarity Fund, there always needs to be a needs assessment, a damage assessment at the beginning. Unfortunately, this region has already an experience. Because 11 years ago, there was a horrible earthquake. But we have a structured approach.

I also want to mention the cohesion funds that can be used. And if we look in the future for prevention, thank God, in the NextGenerationEU plan, we have EUR 6 billion working on prevention for floods, prevention for earthquakes, strengthening the infrastructure. So this is already in the plan.

Therefore, we have a staged approach. And I am very confident that we will work very well together.

Source – EU Commission


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