Labour’s bureaucratic foot dragging stops disaster relief funds reaching target

Labour failure to act quickly means UK must wait 12 months before the EU releases flood relief funds

Strasbourg, 5 September 2007 — EU cash is taking far too long to reach the emergency workers fighting the floods and fires which have affected the UK and Greece over the summer. The Conservatives insist that Labour should have acted more efficiently to ensure that the EU speeds up its allocation of Solidarity Fund cash.

Commenting on the Commission Statement on Natural Disasters, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, said:

“When these disasters occur what is needed is action and fast, with money to help communities and countries. The EU should concentrate on quickly and efficiently releasing money from the solidarity fund, which at last the Government have now applied for. I pressed the Government to apply for EU crisis funds available to help shattered communities on June 27th. However, Flood Recovery Minister John Healey applied only on August 20th, an unacceptable seven week delay.”

Focusing on the need to get money to disaster areas quickly, Conservatives also opposed the Commission proposal to set up a permanent civil protection force to respond to natural disasters:

“This is not the time for bureaucratic new agencies with grand titles to be given tasks that require immediate local response and immediate cash allocation. By the time a proposed natural disaster reaction force assembles, floods and fires could be out of control. The unit proposed by the Commission is quite simply putting the cart before the horse.”

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