1 June 2017
Making cities more resilient against earthquakes starts with modernising buildings and infrastructure

Making cities more resilient against earthquakes starts with modernising buildings and infrastructure

The CoR commission for Natural Resources adopted today by overwhelming majority the draft opinion on a 'European policy on the seismic requalification of buildings and infrastructure' by PES member Vito Santarsiero, Member of the Basilicata Regional Council (Italy).

"Several EU regions have in recent times suffered earthquakes, which have caused devastating effects on their local communities and territories. According to world-wide analysis of past seismic events, the number of victims and the spread of damage is determined more by the poor quality of buildings and the lack of preparedness of the communities affected than by the intensity of the earthquake itself", pointed out the rapporteur.

"Consequently, if seismic risk is to be mitigated, the first thing that needs to be done is to reduce the vulnerability of existing buildings and infrastructure", Santarsiero stressed, reminding that about 40% of public and private buildings and infrastructure in the EU had been built before 1960 and was inadequate to resist to earthquakes.

His draft opinion – which follows up to the CoR's opinion on the Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction 2015-2030 - underlines the strategic importance of putting in place a comprehensive set of measures for the seismic requalification of buildings and infrastructure in EU territory, in order to protect the safety of citizens, conserve its historical and cultural heritage, and limit reconstruction spending.   

The rapporteur requests the European Commission to propose an Action Plan for the seismic requalification of buildings and infrastructure, which should trigger investment also through public-private sector cooperation in key areas such as the conservation of cultural and historic heritage, strategic infrastructure and agricultural and industrial buildings.

He also underlines that all EU projects relating to construction of new infrastructures must ensure adequate resilience to disaster. "Guaranteeing the safety of buildings and infrastructure also means interacting positively with the EU's regional and cohesion policy and its urban and rural growth objectives", he concluded.

The opinion follows- up to the fact-finding mission of the CoR's Conference of Presidentsheld on 25 and 26 May in Italy in the four regions hit by the earthquake, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche, and which discussed how the EU can help affected communities through its main funding tools, that is the European Solidarity Fund and the European Structural and Investment Funds.
Mr Santarsiero's opinion will be adopted at the 10-11 October 2017 plenary session and feed into a joint conference with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk reduction (UNISD) conference on "Disaster Risk Goverance", to be held on 13 October, the International Day for Disaster Reduction. ​​​​​​