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France to receive EU aid for 2003 floods, fires

BRUSSELS, March 9 (AFP) – The European Commission proposed Tuesday unblocking nearly EUR 22 million in “disaster” compensation for French, Spanish and Maltese regions hit by flooding and fires last year.

France should receive the lion’s share of the EUR 19.625 million, for an “exceptional regional disaster” after flooding last December on the southern Rhone valley, notably in the Gard, Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhone departments.

In southern Spain, regions bordering Portugal were hit by devastating forest fires last August. The commission, the EU’s executive arm, unblocked EUR 1.331 million.

The commission said that severe flooding which hit Malta last September amounted to a “major disaster” and granted EUR 961,000. Malta will become the smallest EU state when it joins the bloc with nine other countries on May 1.

The commission’s proposals have to be approved by EU governments and the European parliament.

“The Commission’s proposal expresses the Union’s solidarity with these regions and will notably serve to restore infrastructure and to reimburse the costs of emergency measures,” said regional policy commissioner Michel Barnier.


                                                              Subject: France news