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The European Union Solidarity Fund

The European Union Solidarity Fund



Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund


  • It sets up the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), which provides financial assistance to EU countries facing major natural disasters.
  • Under new rules adopted in 2014 (by amending Regulation (EU) No 661/2014), working procedures were simplified and eligibility criteria clarified, and the Fund was extended to cover drought.
  • Following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the rules were further amended by Regulation (EU) 2020/461 allowing the EUSF to provide financial assistance not only to countries facing natural disasters but also major public health emergencies.


Conditions for intervention

  • As a general rule, the EUSF can provide financial aid if total direct damage caused by a disaster exceeds €3 billion (at 2011 prices) or 0.6% of an EU country’s gross national income (GNI), whichever is lower.
  • Regulation (EU) 2020/461 extends the regulation to cover a major public health emergency which means any life-threatening or otherwise serious hazard to health of biological origin in an eligible country seriously affecting human health and requiring decisive action to contain its further spread. To qualify, this emergency would result in a public financial burden inflicted on the eligible country for emergency response measures estimated at over €1.5 billion (at 2011 prices), or more than 0.3% of its GNI.
  • Although major disasters are the EUSF’s main focus, help is also available for more limited regional disasters, for which the eligibility threshold is 1.5% of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), or 1% for an outermost region.

Disaster prevention and risk management strategies

The new rules encourage EU countries to put in place disaster prevention and risk management strategies by requiring reports before and after applications. If affected countries repeatedly fail to implement EU law on disaster risk prevention they risk having aid reduced or refused.

Eligible countries

The EUSF covers EU countries and countries in the course of negotiating EU membership.

What is the EUSF used for?

  • The EUSF supplements countries’ own public expenditure to finance essential emergency operations. These include:
    • restoring essential infrastructure e.g. energy, water, health and education;
    • temporary accommodation and costs of emergency services to meet immediate needs;
    • securing of prevention infrastructures, such as dams;
    • measures to protect cultural heritage;
    • clean-up operations; and
    • measures aiming at rapidly providing assistance, including medical assistance, to the population affected by a major public health emergency and to protect it from the risk of being affected, including prevention, monitoring or control of the spread of diseases, combating severe risks to public health or mitigating their impact on public health.
  • EUSF payments are limited to financing measures alleviating non-insurable damage and must be recovered if the cost of repairing the damage is subsequently met by a third party.

Applications for assistance

  • The affected country must apply to the European Commission within 12 weeks of a disaster. Financial aid proposed by the Commission must then be approved by the Council and the European Parliament.
  • Specific details concerning applications to address the COVID-19 outbreak are available on a dedicated website.



  • Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 has applied since 15 November 2002.
  • Amending Regulation (EU) No 661/2014 has applied since 28 June 2014.
  • Amending Regulation (EU) 2020/461 has applied since 1 April 2020.


For more information, see:


Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 of 11 November 2002 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund (OJ L 311, 14.11.2002, pp. 3-8)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, pp. 1-11)

last update 25.05.2020