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Summaries of EU Legislation

The European Union Solidarity Fund

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The European Union Solidarity Fund

The European Union (EU) has set up a solidarity fund so that it can respond in an efficient and flexible manner in the event of a major natural disaster in a Member State or in a country negotiating membership.


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


The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), first established in 2002, provides financial assistance to EU countries facing major natural disasters. Under new rules adopted in 2014 (Regulation (EU) No 661/2014), working procedures have been simplified and eligibility criteria clarified, and extended to cover drought.

Conditions for intervention

The EUSF can provide financial aid if total direct damage caused by a disaster exceeds €3 billion (at 2011 prices) or 0.6 % of the country's gross national income, whichever is lower.

Although major disasters are the 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. Affected countries risk having aid reduced or refused if they repeatedly infringe their obligations to implement EU law on disaster risk prevention.

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.

Damage to private property or income loss, considered insurable, is not covered.

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.


The EUSF is funded outside the EU's normal budget (i.e. by additional money raised by EU countries). The maximum annual budget is €500 million (2011 prices), plus any funds remaining from the preceding year.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002



OJ L 311 of 14.11.2002

Amending acts

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 661/2014



OJ L 189 of 27.6.2014


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 [Official Journal C 373 of 20.12.2013].

Last updated: 10.08.2014