Sir Graham Watson, Lib Dem MEP for the South West, has welcomed moves by the coalition government to apply for EU cash to support those in flooded areas and has called for a long-term strategy. 

In the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Commissioner Algirdas Semeta answered questions from MEPs regarding the extreme weather that the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy and Slovenia have endured over the last two months. 

South West England Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson was to speak in the debate but was unable to attend due to a cycling accident. 

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for the South East, spoke on his behalf, as South East England has also experienced severe flooding.

Sir Graham said: "I welcome the fact that the coalition government is now, like other EU governments, looking into a possible application for EU Solidarity Fund money for flooded areas.

"We pay into the fund and we must get money back in times of need.

"As the commissioner mentioned, we must also pay close attention to the Flood Risk Management Plan that the UK will put together by 2015 under the EU's Floods Directive."

"I am calling for the national plan to include a comprehensive long-term water management plan, funded with EIB loans, for the whole South West peninsula.

"We have to start work on re-building and improving our flood and sea defences and properly dredging our waterways."

The debate in the European Parliament also centred around the issue of climate change and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events across Europe.

Sir Graham, who runs a global network of MPs who work together on climate issues called the Climate Parliament, said: "Across Europe we are witnessing the most extreme weather some have seen in a generation.

"This is a warning of the destructive power of a changing and unstable climate.

"We must all redouble our efforts in the fight against climate change to make sure what is exceptional today does not become the norm."