The European Union is much more than simply paperwork and regulations. It is first and foremost a voluntary solidarity union of some 500 million people. This was demonstrated again on 21 November in the case of the Italian region of Umbria.
On 21 November, I was therefore moved, and so happy, to announce, alongside the president of Umbria Catiuscia Marini, that beyond the help and support immediately offered by the EU in the wake of the disasters, the region would be able to direct an additional €56 million towards reconstruction work.
The Commission approved the modification of Umbria's regional cohesion policy programme to the amount of €28 million, and the Italian government agreed to match that sum. In all, Umbria will therefore be able to inject an extra €56 million to help its affected towns recover from the earthquakes.
This extra amount will focus on three issues: making Umbria's schools more resistant to seismic shocks, help local small and medium enterprises recover and thus allowing local economic life to blossom again, and to finance the restoration of cultural and natural landmarks. This last point to the benefits of local inhabitants but also to make tourists come back to Umbria again.