BERLIN, July 20 (Reuters) – The federal government wants to rebuild the flood-damaged infrastructure in the west of the country as soon as possible and is hoping for financial support from the European Union’s Solidarity Fund, as a draft document shows.
As the search for survivors of last week’s flood disaster continues, swept away the houses and bridges, and killed at least 160 people, Germany begins to calculate the financial cost of its worst natural disaster in nearly 60 years.
The federal government plans to provide 200 million euros in emergency aid to repair buildings, damage damaged local infrastructures and help people in crisis situations, as the draft of the document, which is due to go to the cabinet on Wednesday, shows.
If the 16 federal states also contribute 200 million euros, a total of 400 million euros in emergency aid would be available, it said.
The government will apply to the EU for help from a fund set up to cope with natural disasters across the bloc, it said.
Just two months before a federal election, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to show that it is doing everything it can to restore the houses, livelihoods and the structure of the floodplains.
“The federal government will do everything necessary to restore the federal infrastructure as quickly as possible,” said the draft document.
“The repair of the damage and the reconstruction of the infrastructure will require a large financial outlay in the coming years,” it said. One is ready to set up a fund for future major disasters in several regions. Countries could contribute to such a fund.
During a visit to parts of Belgium, which are also affected by the floods, the EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the communities on Saturday that Europe was with them. “We mourn for you and we will be with you to rebuild,” she said.
Southern Germany is also affected by floods and the Free State of Bavaria is initially providing 50 million euros in emergency aid for the victims, said Bavaria’s Prime Minister on Tuesday.
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze called for more financial resources to prevent extreme weather events caused by climate change.
“The current events in so many places in Germany show the force with which the consequences of climate change can affect us all,” she told the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung.
The government is currently restricted by the constitution in supporting flood and drought protection, she said, and advocated that adaptations to climate change should be anchored in the Basic Law.
Experts say the floods in northwest Europe last week should serve as a warning that long-term climate change prevention is needed. Continue reading
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Reporting by Holger Hansen; Writing from Kirsti Knolle and Madeline Chambers; Arrangement by Maria Sheahan and Alison Williams
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