Floods are one of Europe’s most widespread disasters. Major flooding has occurred nearly every year somewhere on our continent during the last few decades. Today, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin is visiting the city of Dresden (Germany), which was hit very hard last year by one of the worst flood catastrophes to occur in Central Europe since the Middle Ages. During this visit, the European Commission has organised a media briefing at Dresdens Ständehaus to present the results of some major research projects on floods, looking into better ways of preventing, predicting, mitigating and managing these catastrophes.
For the period 1980-2002, the greatest number of floods occurred in France (22 %), Italy (17 %) and the UK (12 %). The highest number of fatalities occurred in Italy (38 %), followed by Spain (20 %) and France (17 %). The greatest economic losses occurred in Germany and Italy (both €11 billion), followed by Spain and the UK (both around €6 billion). In the last decade, the EU has launched around 50 research projects in this field, with a total budget of €58 million, in areas such as flood risk assessment, flood hazard and risk mapping, flood forecasting and preventative land-use planning. The Commission is currently developing a European Flood Alert System (EFAS).
"Scientific studies are providing evidence that extreme flood events are becoming increasingly common and severe," says Commissioner Busquin, ”and more frequent and more intense phenomena, such as the Central European floods of last year and the droughts of this summer season, are to be expected. Such extreme events are bound to affect the economy and the lives of Euro-pean citizens. We have to act jointly, on the European, national, regional and local levels, to prevent and mitigate future flood damage. We must learn to live with floods, and thus must think and act more preventively in order to mitigate their consequences. More research is necessary to enhance our flood management and early warning capabilities.”
Julia Acevedo | alfa
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