MADRID – Spanish authorities have provided insight into the total direct damage caused by the volcanic eruption on La Palma in their request for support from the European Solidarity Fund.
The total direct damage concerns a total amount of €862.7 million. On Tuesday, the European Commission approved the payment to Spain of a deposit of €5.4 million from the Solidarity Fund. This will cover the immediate emergency costs caused by the eruption of the Cumbre-Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma.
‘Help to overcome catastrophe’
“The damage caused by the volcano has exacerbated the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis, which mainly affect outermost regions such as the Canary Islands. It is extremely important to activate the Solidarity Fund (along with other available sources of EU funding). It serves as help for people to overcome this catastrophe and look to the future with renewed hope,” Regional Policy Commissioner Elisa Ferreira said in a statement.
Who can appeal to the Solidarity Fund?
The payment of this advance will help the Spanish authorities to restore essential infrastructure (electricity, water, transport, etc.). It also covers the costs of temporary housing for displaced persons. Furthermore, it also cleans the areas affected by the disaster.
The volcanic eruption began on September 19, 2021, and continued until December 15, 2021. The lava and ash devastated an area of approximately 1,200 hectares. In addition, the eruption caused extensive damage to, among other things, network infrastructure, roads, residential assets, and the agricultural sector. It was the first volcanic eruption on the island since the eruption of Teneguía in 1971. With 85 days, it is the longest known eruption of a volcano on La Palma.
Goal Solidarity Fund
On December 3, 2021, Spain requested the activation of the Solidarity Fund. The EU introduced the Fund to help the Member States and candidate countries to cope with the extraordinary budgetary pressures after natural disasters and major health emergencies. The Commission created the fund in response to the severe flooding in Germany in the summer of 2002.
In regional disasters, countries can claim the Solidarity Fund when the total direct damage exceeds 1.5% of the region’s GDP. For the outermost regions, such as the Canary Islands, this threshold is lowered to 1% of regional GDP.