Page last updated at 20:26 GMT, Monday, 14 January 2013

European Solidarity Fund debate

Regional Affairs Commissioner Johannes Hahn has insisted that the EU is "built on solidarity" during a debate with MEPs on 14 January 2013.

He was responding to a series of reports on the European Solidarity Fund (ESF), which was created in 2004 to provide assistance to another EU member state following major disasters.

A disaster is counted as "major" if the estimated cost of damage exceeds €3bn or 0.6% of GNI.

It was introduced following floods that devastated parts of central Europe in 2002 and the realisation that there was no central EU fund to provide assistance.

Since its creation it has been mobilised 49 times, primarily in response to wildfires and floods.

The reports into the fund's implementation say there need to be changes to make it more effective.

It says the fund needs to be more flexible, allowing it to be mobilised in exceptional circumstances where the eligibility threshold may not have been reached.

There are concerns that the current wording of the fund's guidelines are "ambiguous", creating "false expectations" among organisations applying for aid.

The reports will be voted on during the daily voting session from 11am on 15 January 2013.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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