In light of the ongoing forest fires in Portugal and the 2016 Italian earthquakes, GUE/NGL MEPs have put forward an amendment to the Parliament’s negotiating mandate for the trialogue over the EU budget so that money from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) can be made available faster to member states in the aftermath of natural disasters.

This comes as Portugal struggles to deal with the worst-ever forest fires which have already claimed the lives of dozens of people.

GUE/NGL is the only group in the Parliament to have tabled this amendment ahead of yesterday’s deadline before the trialogue between the European Parliament and the Commission begins over the EU Budget.

Commenting on the amendment, Portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas said:

“Besides expressing our deep consternation at the loss of human lives – and following on from the commitments that had already been made public – we are asking the European Commission to take urgent action in order to support the victims of the disaster. We have therefore proposed this amendment together with other members of GUE/NGL.”

“The tragedy in Portugal requires effective and timely actions that respond to the immediate and future needs of the affected population.”

“It is increasingly clear that there is a need to not only increase the Solidarity Fund, but to also adapt the rules in order to allow for more flexible and timely mobilisation, covering a wider range of disasters with huge impacts and to reduce the time taken between the catastrophes and the availability of these funds.”

“It should also be added that a consistent approach is, first and foremost, necessary in order to prevent other disasters by putting into practice the recommendations which the Parliament has adopted,” said Viegas.

Meanwhile, Portugal’s Marisa Matias MEP said:

“These tragic Portuguese forest fires have taken so many lives and have already destroyed so much that we need an answer from the EU.”

“That's why it's so important that right now, the European Parliament is defining its mandate for negotiating the EU budget, mindful of a further increase to the EUSF in order to meet the needs.”

“We hope that the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets will be responsible enough by offering solidarity to the affected families and communities.”

“I sincerely hope that the EU can do much more than to just grieve,” said Matias.

GUE/NGL’s Coordinator on the Committee on Budgets, Liadh Ní Riada, was also unequivocal in her support of the amendment:

“As GUE/NGL Coordinator on the Committee on Budgets, I am more than happy to offer my support to this amendment calling on the EU to release funds to assist the Portuguese government in the battle and clean-up against these horrific forest fires.”

“The EUSF is in place for the very reason of showing solidarity with our European neighbours in times of crisis. The current forest fires raging in Portugal are devastating to natural habitats and human life. I would like to extend my condolences to the Portuguese people and all the families of the 64 people who have sadly lost their lives,” said the Irish MEP.

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