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25th Feb 2024

Greece set to ask for EU aid over floods amid mounting anger

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Greece is set to request EU aid following deadly floods from Storm Daniel amid mounting criticism against the centre-right government in Athens.

But as of Monday (11 September), a European commission spokesperson told reporters in Brussels that such a request has yet to materialise.

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"What they have requested is satellite images which we have provided in the context of the unfortunate series of ongoing floods," said the spokesperson.

The comments come ahead of a meeting on Tuesday in Strasbourg between Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and European Commission president Von der Leyen.

Mitsotakis is set to ask for financial aid at the meeting and is possibly seeking EU funds drawn from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF), the Recovery Fund, and a loan from the European Investment Bank.

At least 15 people have so far been found dead, with two others missing and over 4,000 people evacuated following a three-day deluge hitting central Greece.

Estimated damages hover around €2.5bn, according to Kostas Agorastos, governor of Thessaly. The flooded region is considered Greece's main agricultural breadbasket.

The death toll and damages comes amid mounting anger against the centre-right government. Last year, the European Commission threatened to take Greece to court for failing to provide updated flood risk maps on time.

Greek media ekathimerini is also reporting that flood control projects in Thessaly following a similar flooding disaster in 2020 were never implemented, due to bureaucracy and other delays.

And Documento, another Greek media portal, says less than a million euros out of an available €187m in EU funds had been dispersed to shore up defences against natural disasters. Most of that money had also gone to consultancy projects, it says.

EU states can also trigger a so-called EU civil protection mechanism, granting them humanitarian relief in case of natural disasters. Greece has not made any such requests, says the commission.

"It is for the Greek authorities should they wish to activate the mechanism to define the list of needs," says the European Commission.

The latest flooding also comes after hundreds of fires ravaged swaths of north-eastern Greece in August, considered to the largest recorded wildfire in Europe. At least 20 people, likely asylum seekers, were killed in the blaze.

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