Spain receives 81 million in EU aid to fight drought

by Lorraine Williamson
cost of drought

Spain will receive some €81 million from EU agricultural reserves to combat the ravages of the drought. Spanish Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Luis Planas confirmed this. 

Spain is one of the hardest hit countries in Europe and is one of a total of 22 member states to access these funds. ‘It is important that we get this support quickly so we can distribute it to farmers and agricultural sectors as soon as possible,’ Planas said. 

The total support that the European Commission plans to put on the table is €330 million, of which around a quarter will go to Spain. The aid from Brussels complements the more than €700 million Spain has allocated to support farmers in the areas worst affected by the drought. 

Waiting for final allocation 

‘Final approval’ will be given in the coming days or weeks”, Planas stressed. However, the Spanish government is generally optimistic. ‘We will continue working in the coming days and weeks to reach the greatest possible consensus on the distribution of these funds for our farmers and herders,’ Planas concluded. 

Less rain than normal in first nine months 

In these nearly nine months of the hydrological year, it has rained an average of 464 litres per square metre across Spain. That is 15% less than the normal value of 545 litres per square metre. Despite rainfall from mid-May to mid-June, most areas on the peninsula and the Spanish islands still have a rainfall deficit. 

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Deficit slightly reduced 

The deficit of accumulated precipitation in Spain from 1 October 2022 to 20 June 2023 fell slightly – by one percentage point – to 15% over the past week, according to Spanish weather service AEMET. In many areas, precipitation values have not yet reached 75% of normal, such as in the northeast and southwest of mainland Spain and most of the Canary Islands. 

AEMET also indicates that in the week from 14 to 20 June, rainfall was particularly heavy in the northern half of the peninsula, the south-eastern quadrant, the northern half of the island of Majorca and Menorca, and the north of the island of Tenerife and the interior of Gran Canaria. By area, more than 10 litres of rain fell that week along the entire Cantabrian coast, in eastern Castilla y León, in La Rioja, Navarre and Aragon and in the province of Lérida. The largest amounts fell in the interior of the Basque Country and in the Pyrenees of Huesca. 

Summer started with rain 

On 21 June, just outside the recorded period, rain fell, across large parts of the peninsula, with more than 30 litres per square metre falling in parts of the Pyrenees and the Iberian system. Moreover, the rainfall was often accompanied by thunderstorms. Meanwhile, Spain experienced its first heatwave of the year. 

Europe fastest warming continent 

Europe is the fastest-warming continent, according to the latest report by the climate change service of the Copernicus satellite system, published in April, and already in 2022, records were unprecedented in terms of neither heat levels nor drought. 

Now 2023 is heading in the same direction. Among other things, Copernicus highlights that Europe experienced the second warmest year on record “and that, due to extreme heatwaves in the summer months, southern Europe recorded the highest number of “very severe heat stress” days ever. Furthermore, there is also a downward trend in the number of days without heat stress. The problem is that this is not a one-off event, but the trend looks set to continue, at least for the next few years. 

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