Στο Nicosia Risk Forum 2022, που πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Λάρνακα στις 15 και 16 Νοεμβρίου, συμμετείχε ως κεντρικός ομιλητής ο Υφυπουργός στον Πρωθυπουργό, Αρμόδιος για Θέματα Κρατικής Αρωγής και Αποκατάστασης από Φυσικές Καταστροφές, κ. Χρήστος Τριαντόπουλος. Ακολουθεί αναλυτικά η ομιλία του, με τίτλο «State Aid after National Disasters: Reform, Cost and Challenges»:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure and honor to participate today in the Nicosia Risk Forum, which focuses on an especially significant and urgent challenge of our times, the effects of climate crisis.
The Forum gives us the opportunity to share our strategy to adjust to those new challenges and to manage the impact of climate crisis. An impact depicted to natural disasters.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The climate crisis is a game changer, as it has led to more frequent and more intense natural disasters around the world. According to the United Nations, 90 per cent of disasters are classed as weather- and climate-related, costing the world economy 520 billion dollars each year. Along with the impact of climate crisis as a South European country, Greece – unfortunately- also faces serious earthquake hazards.
The Greek Government, under the guidance of the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, planned and adopted a new strategy in order to adjust and manage the negative impacts of climate crisis in Greece. Our strategy is based on three plus one (3+1) pillars:
The first pillar is the one related with the promotion of green economy and the creation of the conditions for sustainable growth. In this framework, the Government has undertaken major front-loaded initiatives -at national, European or even global level- to address the conditions that led to climate crisis. Initiatives with significant results already, like the increase of the share of renewable resources of energy. Greece is now ranked in the top ten globally. And many more significant “green” achievements and developments in Greece in the last three years, giving our country a position among the leaders in this battle against climate crisis.
The second pillar is about ensuring the conditions for resilience and prevention against natural disasters. Natural disasters that are more frequent and more severe compared to the past. Towards this end, the Government has created a new – modern and proactive – framework of Civil Protection, has been strengthening the Civil Protection services and has created a specialized ministry, the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection. It was a major reform introducing new levels of national coordination, new instruments and procedures, new structures, technology, facilities and services.
The third pillar is focused on the support and recovery framework for the communities affected by natural disasters. A state-aid framework after a natural disaster. The framework of “arogi” – it is the Greek word for aid, for help and assistance in a society. We have been working on this framework for the last three years. A new reform.
Firstly, we introduced a new philosophy, with two major goals: support those in need on time and repairing the damages on infrastructure and networks as soon as possible. Under these conditions, we have shaped the state aid framework for natural disasters, along with field visits to the areas hit by natural disasters. We made the first step of this reform in the first half of 2021 with a new law for the state aid, which modernized the framework for the support of the enterprises hit by natural disasters.
As a result, the enterprises can now receive a first payment only a few days after the disaster and after a few months they could receive the whole amount they are entitled. In fact, this new law rationalized the whole process, since the previous fragmentation of the process among several public services used to cause additional bureaucratic burden, delays and lack of coordination. The results of the reform are tangible. During the last three years, the support for enterprises hit by natural disasters skyrocketed, reaching in total amount of more than 55 million euros. The recipients also increased to more than 4,000 in several cases of natural disasters.
Since its activation, the first state aid platform, arogi.gov.gr, has been used in six occasions to compensate more than 16,000 beneficiaries with 118.5 million euros.
In parallel, the new law led to the creation of the Governmental Committee for State Aid. A coordination body that mobilizes all of the competent Ministries and other agencies in order to support the affected households and enterprises, and to restore the damaged infrastructure and networks as soon as possible, in the wake of a natural disaster. A few months later, in August 2021, we made the second step by introducing the first aid through a single digital platform. This instrument offers a first payment for enterprises and agricultural holdings, as well as support to households. Since its activation, the first state aid platform, arogi.gov.gr, has been used in six occasions to compensate more than 16,000 beneficiaries with 118.5 million euros. Recently, we upgraded the platform arogi.gov.gr and now it provides complete, fully updated information on state aid issues.
In the framework of the Governmental Committee, apart from the general measures, we have created tailor made measures and tools that satisfy the local needs and address the problems that local societies face in the wake of a natural disaster. For example, this year we implemented the innovative measure of North Evia-Samos Pass, a 6 million euros measure for the support of tourism and the stimulation of the two local economies that were hit by natural disasters.
A new measure based on a digital debit card related only with the implementation of it. Of course, along with all these policies and initiatives, our constant presence in areas affected by natural disasters and severe weather phenomena is an important element of our new philosophy. This is something crucial as an approach, because it ensures a constant link with the local communities and stakeholders as well as the prompt detection and handling of possible problems. It enhances trust among citizens and the state, which is very important for a country with questions related to social capital.
The “plus one” pillar is the one related with the day after, focusing on the recovery and the development of an area hit by the natural disaster. Thus, in areas that were seriously hit, we promote the introduction of a master – plan with projects they could lead the area to a path of sustainable growth and create condition of prosperity for all.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Addressing these needs after natural disasters, has, however, serious fixed fiscal impact.
Let’s see specific examples:
750 million euros for the medicane “Janus” (September 2020).
135 million euros for the earthquake and tsunami in Samos (October 2020).
300 million euros for the megafires in North Evia (August 2021).
300 million euros for the earthquake in Arkalochori, Crete (September 2021).
These costs are expected to rise as the recovery process unfolds, without taking into account the cost of implementation of the growth master-plan. For example, the cost of implementation of the master-plan in North Evia is estimated around 300 million euros.
The role of EU Solidarity Fund is important and the fund should be strengthened considerably in order to provide adequate support to the member states in need.
The burden is too big; a national government alone can not carry that. Therefore, we have to discuss about the reform of the European framework for support and recovery in the areas of the EU hit by natural disasters. The role of EU Solidarity Fund is important and the fund should be strengthened considerably in order to provide adequate support to the member states in need.
Until now, its role is marginal. The example of medicane “Janus” in Greece is indicative: the total cost amounts to 750 million euros, yet the aid received by the Fund has not exceeded 22 million euros.
Moreover, especially in view of the increasing natural hazards in the era of climate crisis, the role of the private insurance against natural disasters should also be strengthened. Private insurance should complement state aid, in order to create a comprehensive support framework against natural disasters. Therefore, the new law offers some incentives in favor of private insurance, while the Governmental Committee achieved the removal of some serious counterincentives to private insurance against natural disasters.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a fact, at national but also international and global level, that climate crisis has increased natural disaster risks and the vulnerability of our societies. Therefore, it is crucial that those risks are comprehensively and holistically addressed by government policies. By enhancing, on the one hand, readiness and resilience, as well as prevention and civil protection, in order to avoid negative effects and losses. And on the other hand, by managing effectively natural disaster effects and ensuring recovery and reconstruction of areas and local societies hit by natural disasters. It is an area for close EU cooperation and coordination.
Thank you for your attention.»