Nirj Deva is a Conservative MEP for South East England.
Beyond the hard numbers of property damage and insurance claims one can barely quantify the personal and emotional injury caused by the recent floods. For now, all we can endeavour to do is press on with all urgency in the face of such widespread destruction.
I can only applaud my constituents in the South East region who have come together in an incredible display of selfless community spirit. I was particularly struck in hearing of the efforts of villagers in Twyford, Hampshire, who have tirelessly assisted with pumps, sandbags and reducing waste water – just one example, which I know is indicative of many communities throughout the South East and notably the assiduous local Conservative Councillors in Staines, Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury, Egham Chertsey and Windsor, with whom I am in touch.
For my part, I have been assisting in the initiation of the UK’s claim to the EU Solidarity Fund. With a budget of £414 million for 2014, this fund is designed precisely to respond to such major natural disasters. However, in my contact with the Commission, it became clear that the fund cannot be allocated without first and foremost an official application by the British Government; an advance that had yet to be made when I was planning this article.
After speaking to Rt. Hon Eric Pickles, I am assured that the Treasury is now filing this application imminently. I will be monitoring this process, closely and impatiently over the coming days. Having been involved in similar negotiations following the 2007 floods, I am confident that the Conservative delegation will see this application through to its completion.
I am assisting in applying to two further funds: one designed for longer term regional resilience (ERDF); and the other to compensate for agricultural damages (EAF). It is only right that British taxpayers, who contribute annually to these funds, should now receive their deserved share back from a Union that already takes so much.