The European Union will support Greece with as much as €2.25 billion ($2.4 billion) to mitigate the economic impact of last week’s floods that killed 15 people and destroyed infrastructure and agricultural land.
(Bloomberg) — The European Union will support Greece with as much as €2.25 billion ($2.4 billion) to mitigate the economic impact of last week’s floods that killed 15 people and destroyed infrastructure and agricultural land.
“The Greek people can count on Europe for fast support, maximum flexibility and we stand by your side not only at this short moment but also to rebuild and reconstruct,” Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, said Tuesday after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Strasbourg.
They said they had decided to form a task force which would help distribute funds fast. The initial package of as much as €2.25 billion could be complemented by other sources like the EU’s solidarity fund, von der Leyen said.
The leaders met following the storm Daniel which caused the worst damage in farmland and villages in many decades. The national highway that connects the capital Athens with the country’s second largest city remains closed in parts of the Thessalia region, while the train link has also stopped due to railway damage.
Whole villages were covered by water which is gradually being replaced by mud, wood and various materials. Many animals died, with authorities rushing to collect, bury or burn them before any diseases start spreading.
Businesses and factories were flooded as the storm affected some 72,000 hectares (278 square miles). Shops in Athens are already short of products. The Thessalia region was the worst hit area with entire crops of cotton, corn, tomatoes and apples destroyed.
“We’re in a position to cover many direct needs without deviating from our budgetary targets,” Mitsotakis said. The EU must show maximum support and maximum flexibility and come up with innovative ideas on how to support Greece immediately, as well as in the short to medium period, he added.
In an attempt to ease investors’ worries, Mitsotakis’s economic adviser Alex Patelis pledged that Greece will stick to its fiscal targets, despite the impact of natural disasters. An online compensation platform has opened to provide relief to those affected, as authorities try to estimate the exact cost of the storm.
Mitsotakis said he will “make it my personal mission” to persuade fellow-EU leaders that “we need to top up solidarity funds with significantly more available funds,” to support countries that suffer financial disasters directly related to climate change but also other types of natural disasters, Mitsotakis said.
The floods follow extensive damage caused by forest fires during the summer.
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