Adequate funding, laws on forestry protection, fire prevention and water scarcity, and a balanced agricultural policy, including an EU-wide disaster insurance scheme, are all needed to combat natural and man-made disasters, says Parliament in a resolution approved by a show of hands on Tuesday.
Parliament notes that "responsibility for disaster prevention lies primarily with the Member States", but also stresses the "importance of reducing inequalities between regions and Member States in terms of their capacity to protect their populations, by supporting their efforts to improve prevention", in an own-initiative report on a Community approach to preventing natural and man-made disasters.
Holistic approach, adequate funding
MEPs stress the need for "a holistic approach" to disaster prevention and ask that special attention to be paid to regions that are isolated, remote, mountainous or thinly populated. Conditions for mobilising EU Solidarity Fund aid should also be made more flexible for these regions, they add.
Parliament stresses the need for adequate financial resources, arguing that disaster prevention should be included in the EU's next long-term budget plan, the 2014-2020 "Financial Perspective".
EU disaster insurance and compensation schemes for farmers
Effective prevention requires an environmentally and socially balanced agricultural policy, says the resolution, which advocates creating a "European agricultural public insurance scheme" to address disaster risks and income instability. An EU-wide scheme would "avoid a multiplicity of different insurance schemes in the EU, creating huge imbalances between farmers' incomes", says the resolution.
MEPs also call for a "minimum compensation scheme" for natural or man-made disasters to be accessible to farmers across all EU Member States.
Furthermore, farmers should get extra funding for the additional costs they bear in taking measures to prevent fires (e.g. clearing firebreaks) and to dispose of water (e.g. cleaning collecting ditches and canals), adds the resolution.
Priority prevention measures
MEPs believe that certain measures should get priority support from the EU, such as. drafting and revising building safety and land-use legislation, "re-naturalising" river beds (e.g. by removing concrete channels), reforestation, monitoring erosion, protecting inhabited areas that are particularly vulnerable to disasters and maintaining key infrastructure such as dams, fuel pipelines and communication facilities.
Forest protection and water scarcity
Given the importance of forests and the links between droughts, forest fires and desertification, MEPs call on the Commission and Member States, to table legislation on forest protection and fire prevention and to promote the adoption of an EU policy on water scarcity, drought and adapting to climate change.
Finally, the resolution calls on the Commission to propose ways to implement "coercive measures which will discourage negligence and deliberate action in the starting of fires".
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