Flanders has new decree on natural disasters

Summary

The government of Flanders has approved a new decree on funding provided to victims of officially recognised natural disasters to address what fire insurance doesn’t cover

Agricultural damage

The government of Flanders has approved a new decree governing the recognition of natural disasters, which became a responsibility of the regions last year.

Since that time, two events were listed as natural disasters in Flanders, on the basis of pre-existing legislation: heavy rainfall, including hailstones, which caused severe damage across the region in late July 2014 and again roughly a week later in August. The old legislation, however, dates from 1979.

The Flemish Disaster Fund covers damages not already included in fire insurance, which usually covers lightning, storm damage, flooding and earthquakes. The new decree covers, for instance, agricultural loss due to the effects of storms, such as hail or flooding.

Once a disaster is recognised by the government, victims have three months to lodge a claim. However, the current system where a provisional sum is paid pending deliberation of the claim has been ended, as has the system of covering the cost of expert assessors brought in by the claimant to evaluate the damage.

“These costs are often excessive,” said minister-president Geert Bourgeois, who proposed the new decree. “The victim’s own description of the damage, together with the bills, is sufficient for the disaster fund to evaluate the extent of the damage.”

The new decree removes much of the responsibility in disaster matters from provincial governors, making it simpler and more efficient, he said.

Photo courtesy Vilt

Government of Flanders

Belgium is a federal state with several regional governments. The northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders is governed by the Flemish government, which was created when the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community joined forces in 1980. A minister-president presides over the government of Flanders, and Brussels is the capital city.
Competences - The government of Flanders is responsible for the economy, foreign trade, health care, energy, housing, agriculture, environmental concerns, public works and transport, employment policy, culture, education and science and innovation. Flanders also has the power to sign international treaties in these competencies.
Sole legislator - The powers of the Flemish government and of the federal government do not overlap. Therefore, only one government serves as legislator for each policy area. Flemish laws are called decrees. Decrees apply in co-ordination with federal laws.
Official holiday - 11 July is the official holiday of the Flemish Community, in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Kortrijk on 11 July 1302, when Flemings defeated the army of the French king. Flanders’ official anthem is “De Vlaamse Leeuw” (The Flemish Lion).
6

million people live in the Flemish Region.

5

provinces constitute the Flemish Region: West Flanders, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg.

5

number of years for which the Flemish Parliament is elected. Its elections coincide with those of the European Parliament.