On 14th February 2014, The Independent and a few more newspapers had stories that the UK government (then a coalition between Lib Dems and Tories) reported that the UK would possibly make a U-turn and actually bid for money from the EU Solidarity Fund and use this to help the flood hit areas.
The thing is I cannot actually find any evidence that this actually happened. Pages 29 and 30 of the EU Budget Report PDF list the amending budgets in 2014. Mention is made of assistance for Italy, Croatia and Serbia, but not for the UK. Meanwhile this DG REGIO PDF list of interventions from the Solidarity Fund shows the UK last claimed in 2007 – and that document is correct as of 10th July 2015.
I looked at the issue of EU flood payments to the UK on this blog back in 2008 – you can find all the old posts here. The crucial post is this one – essentially if the UK takes money from the Solidarity Fund, it means HM Treasury gets less money back from the UK rebate, and hence it is rather disinclined to make the bid for the money. Now with the UK EU referendum on the horizon, and a Tory majority government, the chances the government makes a bid this time must be pretty damned low. And if a bid is made, the 2014 case ought to be a cautionary tale – because it looks like that, despite the news stories, the government actually never made a bid for any money.
(Please note: I cannot prove for definite that no money was awarded to the UK in 2014 – something may have come from another fund. I have tweeted the European Commission Budgets people, and the budgets spokesperson, to check what happened in 2014. I will update this story with more information as soon as I receive it!)
Author : Jon