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MEP pushes for access to EU emergency funds
SOUTH West MEP Sir Graham Watson is reaffirming his call for the Government to unlock EU emergency funds to help support those struck by the floods across the Somerset levels.
Sir Graham, LibDem, has asked the Government to apply for aid from the EU's Solidarity Fund to help rebuild communities devastated by the flooding. The fund, which has a budget of up to £414m for 2014, was set up to provide financial assistance to EU countries struck by major disasters.
In a letter to Environment Minister Owen Paterson and Flooding Minister Brandan Lewis, Graham Watson called for urgent action to ensure the UK benefits from the fund. The Levels-based MEP has also received assurances from the European Commission that Britain can apply for funding.
The funds have been used extensively to help communities across Europe and in particular for the devastating floods along the Danube river in 2010 and for Gloucestershire in 2008.
Sir Graham said: "Eric Pickles, who's helping to co-ordinate the Government's response, has a chance to access EU funds to which the UK taxpayer contributes and get money back to the UK, yet all I see is dithering.
"People are fed up with the lack of action in Whitehall. A European Commissioner is ready to judge an application and is open to signing the cheque. All it takes is one email from Pickles and the Treasury."
"My constituents are rightly angry that politicians are visiting but little action is forthcoming.
"Action is gathering pace, but it is not fast enough for many and too late for some. Let us seize the opportunity to use European funds now to get residents and businesses back on their feet."