Italy: “Europe is on your side”, says von der Leyen after visiting flood-stricken Emilia-Romagna
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with residents of Cesena on Thursday after devastating floods last week.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged support to Italy on Thursday during a helicopter tour of the Emilia-Romagna region hit by floods last week.
“In the coming weeks, when we have managed to make an overall estimate of the damage caused by the floods, we will also apply for the activation of the Solidarity Fund, which is intended for emergencies and natural disasters,” said the Italian Prime Minister. Minister Giorgia Meloni who accompanied the President of the Commission.
“It is unfortunately a fund that Italy has had to access on other occasions, but I think it was also important for President von der Leyen to see with her own eyes the extent of the problem and the plurality of the problems. we face,” she continued. .
Last week’s floods killed at least 15 people. Twenty-one rivers overflowed their banks and at least 300 landslides were triggered by a heavy concentration of rain, which could not be absorbed by terrain parched by lack of rain for weeks.
“It’s heartbreaking to see this, to see the flooding, the water, the land under water, covered in water, but also to see the mud. And those deep scars from the many landslides,” added von der Leyen.
“So indeed it was very useful to see from above the spirit of the damage and the devastation and also the very different problems it causes. Emilia-Romagna has a long history, a rich history, it It is therefore all the more painful to see how profound the destruction and devastation in this region is.
“So basically I’m here to send a clear message, and that’s ‘L’Europa è con voi’ (Europe is on your side).”
Together with the president of the region Stefano Bonaccini and the mayor of the province Enzo Lattuca, the president visited the areas most affected by the floods and met some of the rescuers and residents.
The Italian government on Tuesday approved more than two billion euros in aid for the flood-hit region, including farmers and business owners in one of the country’s most productive regions.
The government is considering raising the price of admission tickets to state museums by one euro ($1.1), Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said. The money would be intended to help pay for repairs to damaged cultural institutions.
Meloni told reporters that the aid approved at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday included the suspension of tax payments, as well as utility bills over the next few months. Mortgage payments in areas deemed to be disaster areas will also be suspended.
“In the situation in which Italy finds itself, finding 2 billion euros in a few days is not an easy thing,” Meloni said.
She cited many categories receiving aid, including education, where laptops have to be purchased for students who cannot get to school due to flooding.
For workers temporarily out of work because farms and businesses have been destroyed or made inaccessible, some 580 million euros have been allocated.
Emilia-Romagna Governor Stefano Bonaccini, who accompanied Meloni at the press conference, expressed thanks for the quick approval of the aid, but noted that the region “has wounds and will have them for some time”.
“There are people who have lost everything, or who have lost almost everything,” Bonaccini said.
Other sectors, such as the important agricultural sector of the region’s economy, known for its production of fruit, honey, wheat, pork and poultry, are still calculating losses.
Also among the badly damaged areas were many resorts along the Adriatic Sea, a stretch of coast popular with tourists from Italy and northern Europe.