Blog: Helping Umbria recover from earthquakes - Hoofdinhoud
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.
We all have in mind the images of damaged buildings and people in despair as a wave of earthquakes hit central Italy between August 2016 and January 2017.
One of the most symbolic of those images was the half-destroyed Basilic of San Benedetto in the small town of Norcia, in 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.
Beyond Umbria itself, this means that in total the four Italian regions affected by those earthquakes will have received €400 million from EU and national funds.
But think of it: EU funds are European taxpayers' money; in other words, this is not just the EU Commission helping those regions, it is, indirectly each and every European citizen.
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