Sumario: February 14, 2005: Asian Tsunami: European Commission reconstruction mission to Sri Lanka and Indonesia (Brussels)
Senior European Commission officials and experts will arrive in Asia today to identify potential projects and select priorities for action in tsunami-hit areas. The joint DG Relex/Europaid mission will visit affected areas and discuss with the governments of Sri Lanka and Indonesia how EU assistance worth up to €350 million can best be used to support reconstruction efforts. The mission will also co-ordinate with other donors. The European Investment Bank will join the mission to plan
implementation of its loan package (Indian Ocean Tsunami Facility), which will finance large scale infrastructure redevelopment and initiatives to revitalise private sector activity in the region. Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will visit Sri Lanka and Indonesia next month.
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner commented on the launch of the mission: "The European Commission responded to the Tsunami disaster with immediate and effective humanitarian assistance. We now need to prepare a smooth transition to the reconstruction phase. The European Commission has made a long term commitment to the region, and we will stand side by side with the countries so devastated by the Tsunami, to help their peoples rebuild their homes, their lives and their futures."
In addition to the financial pledge already made, the Commission is developing innovative and practical initiatives to assist affected countries in their reconstruction. This includes a wide range of measures such as the provision of technical assistance on fisheries and land registry; support for regional early warning technologies and satellite monitoring; trade measures such as the early introduction of the EU's new Generalised System of Preferences to provide improved access to EU markets and help affected country's exports; and proposed actions in the fields of health, and justice, freedom and security. In addition, the action plan includes measures to avoid overlaps or gaps in reconstruction efforts. It will be kept under constant review according to the developing needs assessments.
Following the mission, the Commission will prepare a comprehensive two year €350 million Tsunami Indicative Programme for reconstruction. This will be closely linked to the needs assessments developed by the governments of the affected countries and the World Bank, and will be designed to support national reconstruction plans. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner is expected to outline the main points of the Programme on her visit to the region in March.