European Union to rush more than $2 billion to disaster-hit Greece, using untapped aid funds


STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The European Union is promising Greece more than 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion) in financial support in the wake of massive summer wildfires and ongoing floods that have caused extensive damage across central Greece.

“Never, ever before has such a vast area been destroyed by wildfires. Then, floods devastated large regions of Greece,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a meeting Tuesday with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Von der Leyen said 2.25 billion euros could be made available in the short term, with much of the money coming from unclaimed funds for development and agriculture projects mostly earmarked for Greece.

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“We should use unspent cohesion money from the last (funding) period which would otherwise be lost,” she told reporters at the meeting in Strasbourg, France.

Much of the central Greek farming belt remains flooded a week after storms killed at least 15 people, while large sections of the country’s main highway and rail network remain closed.

“I would first and foremost address the gravity of the situation at hand. Greece has over the past month endured two devastating natural disasters of historic proportions,” Mitsotakis said.

“The fire in the region of Evros (near Greece’s border with Turkey) is the largest fire in Europe’s history … And we’ve had the worst floods in our history. This is probably one of the most powerful storms to ever hit Europe,” he said.

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