European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday that Italy will be entitled to access European Union funds to finance part of the reconstruction in areas hit by recent floods.
“It is heartbreaking to see the floods, the land covered by water, but also to see the mud and the deep scars of the faults, the landslides. It was very useful to see from above the breadth of the damage, the devastation, but also the very different problems,” von der Leyen told reporters after touring the area by helicopter with Italian authorities.
Earlier this month, parts of northern Italy were hit by the worst floods in a century, which killed at least 15 people and displaced tens of thousands.
Von der Leyen added that the bloc’s Solidarity Fund could be the first of the resources to be activated but stopped short of quantifying how much money will be available to Italy in the future.
“It is urgent to trigger the Solidarity Fund. It has a clear rule. There is a very small prepayment that will be done. It’s standardized for every disaster. But there needs to be a damage assessment so that we get a clearer idea of what could be our European contribution,” she said.
She said Italy could also invoke the use of EU resources for agriculture, since so many farmers suffered severe damage to their crops.
Cohesion funds and the Recovery Fund’s cash will also be available to invest for the prevention of such natural disasters.
Von der Leyen also noted that nine EU countries had already provided Italy with support for the initial emergency.