Brussels, 6 July 2023 (TDI): Croatia is taking stock of its reconstruction efforts after the devastating earthquakes that struck in March and December 2020, causing extensive damage in Zagreb, Petrinja, and the Sisak Moslavina county.

The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) provided significant support, totaling €1 billion, disbursed in two tranches in 2020 and 2021.

The funding enabled Croatia to swiftly initiate the reconstruction of vital infrastructure, schools, universities, hospitals, and cultural heritage sites.

Some of the notable projects that received EUSF support include the restoration of the Zagreb Cathedral, Merkur Clinical and Sisters of Charity hospitals, various faculties at the University of Zagreb, the Dr Ivan Merz primary school in Zagreb, and the establishment of temporary container settlements in Sisak Moslavina county to provide housing for those affected.

Coordinating the reconstruction and recovery efforts posed numerous challenges, with 1,330 contracts signed involving 609 beneficiaries and 304 construction companies.

In addition to that, approximately 10,500 construction workers were engaged in the extensive reconstruction endeavors.

The EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) is a vital instrument for post-disaster recovery, demonstrating European solidarity. It provides financial assistance to Member States and accession countries in the aftermath of severe natural disasters and major health emergencies.

Moreover, the funds can be utilized for essential emergency operations, infrastructure repairs, protection of the population, preservation of cultural heritage, and cleanup operations.

Since April 2020, the EUSF has also been extended to cover major public health emergencies, ensuring support during crises like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also Read: EU congratulates USA on its 247th anniversary

In December 2020, Croatia received €684 million in EUSF assistance following the devastating earthquake in Zagreb.

Subsequently, in response to additional earthquakes in Petrinja, Karlovac, and Sisak Moslavina, the Commission allocated an additional €319 million of EUSF assistance to Croatia in December 2021.

Recognizing the increasing needs and limited resources of the EUSF, the European Commission proposed a €2.5 billion increase in the Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve (SEAR) as part of the MFF mid-term revision in June 2023.

The EU Solidarity Fund and the Emergency Aid Reserve play vital roles in responding to major natural disasters and public health crises, both within and beyond the EU.