The Commission responded to the request of the Portuguese authorities by offering to mobilise the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF).
The fund is designed to help Portugal deal with the damages caused by a large number of fires which started on 20 July and have claimed 18 lives to date. Latest figures from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) showed that more than 350,000 ha of land was burnt, 300,000 ha of which forest and 44,000 ha agricultural land. Although most of the forest fires were extinguished by mid-August, a combination of high temperatures, winds and drought has kept the potential for new fires high.
The disaster is reported to have caused the loss of goods and employment for about 45,000 persons. It also came as a serious blow to the Portuguese forestry industry, which accounts for 6,5 per cent of the country's exports.
The money will be used towards covering the cost of emergency measures such as rescue services, temporary accomodation for evacuated inhabitants, energy, water and repairs to basic infrastructure. For other costs such as other repairs and prevention measures, structural and cohesion funds can be reallocated by the regional and national authorities.
The fund will now need to be approved by the Council and the Parliament before it can reach Portugal. This is expected to happen before mid-October.