Budget block on Italy quake aid called 'shameful'
BRUSSELS (AP) — The head of the European Parliament on Monday decried as shameful the delay by some countries in approving €670 million ($850.5 million) to help Italy's Emilia Romagna region recover from this year's back-to-back earthquakes.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that EU members who have held up talks on the approval of the EU's 2013 budget, including the quake funds, "should feel ashamed."
After talks with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti over the weekend, Schulz said some EU countries were taking the earthquake aid "hostage" to get a more favorable deal from the budget negotiations.
Twenty-four people died in two temblors that struck the agricultural and industrial region in May.
EU budget talks resume Tuesday.
Separately, Italy's government announced Monday evening that its request for €18 million ($23 million) in solidarity funds to help the regions of Tuscany and Liguria, hard hit by flooding in 2011, had been approved by the European Commission.
The funds will help finance repair of damage to electrical, water and sewage systems and infrastructure, as well as road repairs. The funds will also be used to shore up buildings left in precarious condition by the floods. The Cinque Terre tourist towns in Liguria were especially damaged by the floodwaters.