Investigation of the European Union Solidarity Fund

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2012

22 Pages, Grade: 1.3

Ron Böhler (Author)


1 Introduction
2 Natural Disaster Management & European Solidarity
3 Ever closer Social Union? Towards a Framework for Analysis
3.1 Socialising Europe: The Concept of Solidarity
3.2 Europeanising the `Social': A Theoretical Framework
4 The European Union Solidarity Fund: Facts and Figures
4.1 Roots, Development and Objectives
4.2 Reform Efforts and Future Prospects
4.3 Budget and Performance
5 The European Union Solidarity Fund assessed
5.1 Motive
5.2 Steering & Modus Operandi
5.3 Institutionalisation
6 Conclusion
7 References

1 Introduction
For decades, European unification has been illustrated ordinarily as a mere economic
integration process that lacks a complementary political dimension, let alone a social
one. Even more in times of the current sovereign debt crisis that continuingly bears
the potential to threaten both the stability and competitiveness of a series of market
economies, the European Union (EU) is expected to succeed or fail with its common
Eurozone currency, the Euro. It's the economy, stupid!, one might say.
Yet, while national governments and European policy-makers incessantly discuss
about adequate ways of political steering of shattered European financial regulations,
the EU has over the years installed institutions and mechanisms that shall strengthen
and deepen the European project, but have only reluctantly gained academic and
public attention. Much has been already written about the EU regional policy and
structural funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the
European Social Fund (ESF) as attempts to improve social cohesion within Europe
(Hooghe 1996; Baun and Marek 2008). Another institutionalised form of intra-
European solidarity, in contrast, remains overall a blind spot in academic literature
although its name is a clear avowal to European solidarity: the European Union
Solidarity Fund (EUSF). It will be addressed here and tested a long a variety of
variables to evaluate whether we can speak of a Europeanisation of solidarity
mechanisms within the Community. The following subquestions will be raised:
Which calculus does the European Union Solidarity Fund follow? Is it purely
rationally or rather normatively motivated? Can the EUSF be considered an institution
of inter-European solidarity? And if yes, who demonstrates solidarity with whom?
The aim of this essay is it to move beyond pure evaluations of the EUSF's efficiency
and viability (Hochrainer 2009b; Mechler et al. 2010; Åhman and Nilsson 2009) and
to target its social dimension. The argument elaborated here is that natural hazard
insurance mechanisms on the European level effectively complement national ones
and that this cannot be fully explained with rational behaviour. The EUSF might be a
test case for inter-European solidarity transfer payments irrespective of rational cost-
benefit calculations, though it seems to share most attributes with the EU Cohesion
and Regional Policy.
The first section will briefly explain why solidarity between EU member states is an
important issue to look at and sets the stage for subsequent evaluations. The second

part outlines a theoretical framework fusing the inherently vague concept of solidarity
with insights from Europeanisation research. The motive behind the Fund, its steering
mechanism and modus operandi as well as its institutionalisation will then serve as
benchmarks for a comprehensive assessment of the EUSF. The paper concludes with
a short summary of empirical findings.
2 Natural Disaster Management & European Solidarity
Over the years, the European Union has become a club of meanwhile 27 Member
States and is about to expand even further. Having said that, the EU's capacity for
widening is called into question without prior deepening of the political, economic
and particularly the social dimension (Bach et al. 2006). With the enlargement wave
of 2004 ­ and further accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 ­ the heterogeneity
of economic performances, the distribution of wealth, diverging social policies and
labour standards, inclusion and exclusion in all spheres of society, minority rights,
excessive migration movements and so on are real challenges and the European
project may have reached its limit to cope with and efficiently respond to them.
Solidarity and justice are key issues here.
Compared to these contingencies, where EU politics seems to be trapped in a
deadlock, European responses to hazardous weather events have been considerably
far advanced. This is necessary given that the total number of natural disasters in
Europe has risen dramatically over the last forty years or so (CRED 2008).
Particularly floods have more regularly endangered more and more regions all over
Europe as Table 1 demonstrates.

Table 1: Development of Natural Disasters in Europe, 1970 ­ 2007
Source: CRED 2008 (cited in Hochrainer 2009)
As a consequence, joint action based on solidarity is nothing but purposive given that
the very nature of floods, storms and other natural catastrophes does not recognise
state borders and hence requires coordination and joint strategic action on the
supranational level. In fact, there is also evidence that with the EUSF EU Member
States have transferred natural hazard insurance systems from the national to the
European level. First, because general and all-encompassing public insurances against
damages caused by extreme weather events do not exist in all EU Member States
(Schwarze and Wagner 2009) or have been passed to the private sector (Aakre et al.
2010; Bouwer et al. 2007). As will be described further below, the EUSF specifically
compensate non-insurable damages. Second, the EUSF is hence a complementary tool
to national insurance mechanisms and helps EU Member States to better respond to
economic losses in the aftermath of natural disasters. If we speak about solidarity in
this regard, it is about spatial justice of geographically predetermined societies.
Notably with reference to those Community members that are ill-equipped against
natural hazards, one might expect stronger financial aid for reconstruction:
`Particularly for the transition countries of central and eastern Europe, floods pose a
significant risk to economic development and can be devastating to the usually

uninsured victims and to governments that are ill prepared to provide flood relief and
recovery' (Linnerooth-Bayer and Amendola 2003, p.537).
The EUSF' recovery program would hence be fully in line with Article 222 of the
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that has been adopted with
the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. It contains a solidarity clause that reads as follows: `The
Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member
State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster'
(TFEU 2008). In the following, their performance will be under critical investigation.
3 Ever closer Social Union? Towards a Framework for Analysis
The aim of this essay is it to identify and assess, whether the EUSF is an adequate
mechanism to speak of advancing inter-European solidarity. Although the
intensification of European social inequality is long-since subject for debate in both
European integration research and social policy, `theoretical bases for dealing with
the emergence of supranational patterns of social solidarity [...] are extremely weak'
(Heidenreich 2006, p.3; cf. Radtke 2009, p.118). It is hence proposed here to merge
the analytical concept of solidarity with the theoretical framework of Europeanisation.
This way, it is possible to evaluate whether solidarity has made the necessary step out
of the national context and towards the European level.
3.1 Socialising Europe: The Concept of Solidarity
Finding a commonly accepted definition of solidarity is no easy endeavour. The term
is as nebulous as it is ambiguous. As a minimal consensus, writes Mau, solidarity
means `an interrelationship between individuals or social groups that is characterised
by special ties and mutual commitments' (Mau 2005, p.247). Such peculiar bonds
develop, exist and may again decline on various levels of interaction ranging from the
individual level including families, circles of friends or peer groups to the societal
level, meaning e.g. solidarity within social classes, up to the state level as part of
bilateral or multilateral relations. While some scholars construe solidarity exclusively
as a reciprocal concept that features first and foremost mutual cooperation (cf.
Schieder 2009, p.18-19), others have stressed that solidarity can be indeed
monodirectional and generous (Offe 2004). Solidarity seen from this angle requires a
sense of community, not necessarily balanced or reciprocal treatment. Actors within

this community may share similar values or are bound together through a common
history of political, socioeconomic or cultural relations that create a kind of empathy
or shared destiny.
Solidarity may vary depending on the level and intensity of each interrelationship. On
the interstate level, indeed, solidarity to help and assist other countries that are least
developed or suffer from serious catastrophes is far from routine. Global competition
and extending markets, so a general conviction, result in shrinking solidarity (Berger
2004). A globalised economy and transnational markets do, on the other side, lead to
entangled states that share both upswings and economic slumps. From this can be
reasoned that interstate solidarity would be highest under conditions of solid
economic, political or cultural interdependence that facilitates some kind of shared or
co-responsibility between partnering countries. The more states are interconnected
through trade, diplomatic relations, cultural exchange or even common institutions for
joint governance as it is the case in the European Union for instance, the more deeply
routed would solidarity for each other be. After decades of `nationalisation of
solidarity practices' (Wagner and Zimmermann 2003, p.254) as a consequence of the
rise of the nation state that found its expression, for instance, in public unemployment
insurances or the social security's solidarity principle, regional integration movements
do not necessarily replace, but have the potential to complement domestic solidarity
Mau (2008, pp.10-14) differentiates five types of European solidarity that will be the
point of reference here: self-seeking solidarity (`Eigennutzsolidarität'), solidarity
based on affinity (`Verbundenheitssolidarität'), solidarity as a citizen
(`Bürgersolidarität'), collective solidarity (`Bewegungssolidarität') and empathetic
solidarity (`Mitgefühlssolidarität'). Table 2 below summarises the five modes and
will serve as an analytical orientation for further evaluation of the EUSF.
Excerpt out of 22 pages


Investigation of the European Union Solidarity Fund
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Ron Böhler (Author), 2012, Investigation of the European Union Solidarity Fund, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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