THE European Union is set to hand out flood relief money for areas like Spain’s Costa Blanca and Mar Menor regions some nine months after September’s freak weather led to a major disaster that will live long in the memories of those that were affected.
The slow moving wheels of power in Brussels saw the members of the EU’s Budget Committee today (May 28) approve a total of €279 million in aid following extreme weather events last year in Spain as well as in Austria, Italy, and Portugal.
The money will be taken out of the European Union Solidarity Fund, which was created after severe flooding in Central Europe in the summer of 2002.
Specifically €56.7 million will go to Spain after record-breaking Gota Fria storms in September lead to extensive flooding, especially in the central part of the Vega Baja region in places like Orihuela, Almoradi, Rafal, and San Fulgencio.
The Mar Menor was also badly hit in last autumn’s historical weather event with communities around San Javier and Los Alcazares amongst those affected.
Last week, Orihuela’s mayor, Emilio Bascunana complained that his municipality had not seen a single cent of money directly paid out to his authority by either the national Madrid government or the regional Valencian administration.
Bascunana said that funding was urgently needed to help pay for flood prevention projects, as any reconstruction that was still happening in his area.
The EU budget report was written by José Manuel Fernandes and unanimously approved by all 38 committee members.
There are still a few more official pieces of European hurdles to be crossed before the Spanish government gets the money, with ratification of the grant needed by the European Parliament as well as the individual member states that sit on the Council of Europe.
Approval should all be granted sometime this June.
José Manuel Fernandes, said: “We are committed to rebuilding the infrastructure and economies of all the regions that were hit by bad weather last year. This is a small but important step towards their recovery.”