EU adds rebuilding aid to Albania struck by earthquake
Thursday, 05 December 2019
At the press briefing yesterday, following her first meeting with the College of Commissioners, new European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced that Albania will immediately receive €15 million in EU funds for reconstruction work following the devastating earthquake last week.
Europe’s Emergency Response Coordinator, Janez Lenarcic, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, was in Albania today (5 December) to assess the damage and the primary needs for reconstruction.
“My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. The EU is providing tangible solidarity to the Albanian people at this difficult moment. I want to thank the many first responders, both from Albania and from across the EU, who have helped. The EU is committed to providing further support as needed,” he said.
The European Civil Protection Team is working in close coordination with the EU Delegation in Tirana to coordinate the emergency response. EU deployed three search and rescue teams from Greece, Italy and Romania, and delivered generators, tents, sleeping bags and first aid kits from Belgium, Slovakia, Romania and Austria. Sweden has also offered tents, beds and mattresses.
A Commission press officer told The Brussels Times that there is an EU solidarity fund which provides financial assistance to Member States following natural disasters.
Many buildings in Albania were built without proper permits or supervision and were not earthquake-proof. A major task for the Albanian authorities, with EU support, will be to enforce construction legislation.
Asked at the press briefing about Albania’s chances to start accession negotiations, von der Leyen replied that negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia should start as soon as possible, while in parallel a review of the accession procedures could take place, as demanded by France. In her view, it was a “strategic mistake” not to open the negotiations.