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EU offers Poland flood aid

WARSAW, Poland -- The European Union has offered Poland funds to help repair flood damage that devastated large tracts of the country.

The plan to reallocate funds for flood damage from Poland's proposed EU membership budget was announced on Friday.

EU enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen promised an extra 15 million euros ($13 million) in aid after floods and storms killed 29 people and caused extensive damage.

The EU's ambassador to Warsaw, Bruno Dethomas told Reuters news agency that more money could be offered from the PHARE development programme's budget for Poland which totals 452 million euros for this year.

"The commission does not rule out, if the need arises, redeploying funds from certain other PHARE projects, as long as that does not affect Poland's preparation to join the EU," Dethomas told a news conference.

Poland's southern uplands and areas along the Vistula river were badly affected by the flooding and the damage caused totals billions of zlotys.

Dethomas encouraged local governments to apply for aid from the EU to help rebuild schools, medical centres and help supply clean water to flood victims.

The EU would be prepared to finance work on flood defences along the Vistula river which failed near the town of Sandomierz last weekend and caused several villages to go under water.

Some small businesses will also be eligible for aid from the EU.

Poland, presently engaged in EU entry talks, hopes to gain EU membership in 2004.

• Eastern Europe Fears More Flooding On the Way
• The Central Flood Committee

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