Parliamentary questions

Parliamentary questions E-006821-16
9 September 2016

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Maria Grapini (S&D)

Subject:  Earthquake information for European citizens

Scientists cannot predict exactly when earthquakes will occur, but they can anticipate their effects. The relationship between the level of damage to buildings and the number of deaths recently recorded in Italy, Haiti and Chile was determined by a range of factors, chiefly the distance from the epicentre of the earthquake and the vulnerability of structures exposed to earth tremors. A worrying number of seismic vulnerability class I buildings have been identified across Europe, some of which have been labelled a danger to the public. Even though work is being carried out to strengthen many of these buildings, the process is long and difficult, especially because people do not realise that they are at risk and many refuse to cooperate with the authorities while restoration work is underway.

What steps will the Commission take to provide more public information on earthquakes and their devastating effects?

Original language of question: RO

7 November 2016
Answer given by Mr Stylianides on behalf of the Commission

The European Union has financed the development of Eurocodes, the European standards for the design of buildings and civil infrastructures, including Eurocode 8, which addresses seismic design and retrofit. The Commission supports Member States and engineering professionals in the implementation and use of Eurocodes through workshops and training courses, and disseminates training and education material(1).

EU-funded research contributes to the further improvement of the European standards and guidelines, for example the recent guidelines on pre-cast structures and on seismic strengthening of existing buildings. Funding for earthquake damage mitigation measures can be included under the Structural Funds (risk prevention priority).

The Commission supports Member States in their risk awareness, communication and education activities in order to enhance the ability of communities to cope and recover from disaster situations. For example, some prevention and preparedness projects financed by the Union Civil Protection Mechanism are specifically aimed at improving risk communication and hence risk awareness and structured knowledge in local communities, with particular attention to vulnerable individuals; examples include ‘Raising earthquake Awareness and Coping with Children’s Emotions’ (RACCE, 2010), ‘Awareness of Disaster Prevention for vulnerable groups’ (ADAPT, 2014) and ‘Know your city reduce your seismic risk through non-structural elements’ (KnowRISK, 2015)(2).

The Commission is also working with Member States to exchange best practices on risk communication via the EU Exchange of Experts programme