EU considers debt relief for countries hit by floods, wildfires

(EurActiv, 6 Sep 2021) The emergency costs related to this summer’s floods and wildfires could be classified as “a one-off” expenditure and therefore excluded from the calculation of EU countries’ public deficits this year, the European Commission has said.

Last month, the German government established a reconstruction fund of €30 billion to cover the damages caused by the July floods, which killed 184 people in Western Germany and left 42 dead in Belgium.

In Greece, meanwhile, the government authorised a €500 million relief package in response to the wildfires that ravaged the country in August.

For Athens and Brussels, the expenditure related to this year’s climatic events is putting an additional strain on public finances, which are already under tight scrutiny at EU level as part of the Stability and Growth Pact.

“Member states indeed certainly have to engage funds in order to deal with the consequences of such catastrophes,” said EU Commission chief spokesperson Eric Mamer in response to a question from EURACTIV about the economic costs of this year’s climate-related disasters.

Mamer pointed to the EU solidarity fund as a potential source of support for affected EU member states.

In addition, the European Commission may also decide to exclude short-term crisis expenditure from the calculation of public debt and deficits, the EU executive said.

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EurActiv, 6 Sep 2021: EU considers debt relief for countries hit by floods, wildfires