On 25 November 2020, Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Vincenzo Sofo of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The Commission has decided, with Parliament’s approval, to channel EU solidarity funding of over EUR 800 million into assistance for Croatia and Poland in dealing with the natural disasters that have occurred in 2020, accompanied by advance payments to seven Member States (Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Spain) in response to the public health emergency caused by the pandemic in the first months of 2020.
Italy, however, has also been beset by disasters, as well as major public health emergencies attributable to COVID in 2020, Calabria being a case in point. Its health system is so precarious that the government has imposed a lockdown despite the relatively limited number of infections. It still has no crisis management plan owing to the inaction of the government itself, which has been responsible for health over the last decade.
In recent days, Calabria has also been brought to its knees economically and its infrastructures have been severely damaged by exceptionally bad weather conditions.
In view of this, will the Commission consider deploying solidarity funding for Italy also, with a view to providing assistance in Calabria and wherever else it may be needed?”
On 2 February 2021, Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) can be activated at the request of Member State’s authorities, by submitting an application, within 12 weeks of the occurrence of the disaster, demonstrating that the total direct damage exceeds either 0.6% of the gross national income or 1.5% of the average gross domestic product of the affected regions.
From 1 April 2020, the scope of the EUSF has been extended to cover major public health emergencies. By 24 June 2020 (deadline), the Commission received 22 such applications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including an application from Italy.
The Commission services have made a preliminary assessment of the Italian application and requested additional information to the Italian authorities in order to finalise the assessment. The awarding of the financial assistance EUSF to Italy will take place in 2021, subject to budget availability.
Italy can also benefit from the financial assistance through the CRII and CRII+ reallocation of the Cohesion funding to finance COVID-19 related expenditure.
Taking full advantage of the flexibility granted under the CRII and CRII+ initiatives, the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Programme (OP) ‘Calabria’ was recently amended to strengthen the Region’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
EUR 140 million has been earmarked for interventions in support of the health sector, EUR 180 million for business support measures, and EUR 180 million for education and training, employment support measures and social services.
The amended National OP ‘Enterprises and Competitiveness’ has increased resources allocated to the Central Guarantee Fund for businesses mostly affected by the crisis, and the National OP ‘Research and Innovation’ has earmarked funds for purchase of medical equipment and measures in support of e-learning.”
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