EU budget: Commission proposes major funding increase for stronger borders and migration

Avramopoulos EU Migration Policy

© European Union , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission proposes to almost triple funding for migration and border management to €34.9 billion, as compared to €13 billion in the previous period.

The Commission’s proposal is a response to increased migratory, mobility and security challenges, with more flexible funding instruments to address unforeseen migratory events and border protection at the core of the new budget. A new separate fund for integrated border management will be created and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be further strengthened with a new standing corps of around 10,000 border guards. The new border fund will also help Member States carry out customs controls by financing customs control equipment.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Based on past experience and the knowledge that migration will remain a challenge in the future, we are proposing an unprecedented increase in funding. Strengthening our common EU borders, in particular with our European Border and Coast Guard, will continue to be a big priority. Increased flexibility of our funding instruments means we are ready to support Member States quickly; where they need it, when they need it – particularly in the event of crisis.”

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Better managing our external borders and migration will remain key priorities for the EU, the Member States and our citizens in the years to come. Bigger challenges need bigger resources – this is why we propose to almost triple the budget in this area. The reinforced funding will be pivotal in ensuring that we can implement these political priorities: further secure our external borders, continue to grant protection to those who need it, better support legal migration and integration efforts, counter irregular migration, and effectively and swiftly return those who have no right to stay.”

Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici said: “The EU’s 115,000 customs officials are on the frontline in protecting our citizens from counterfeit or unsafe goods and other forms of illicit trade. To support them in that vital task, we are today proposing a new fund worth €1.3 billion, for EU countries to acquire the most cutting-edge customs equipment. The EU’s Customs Union celebrates its 50th anniversary next month: we must ensure that it continues to go from strength to strength.”

During the refugee crisis of 2015 and 2016, the financial and technical support that the EU provided to Member States was essential in supporting Member States under pressure, developing search and rescue capacities, stepping up returns and better managing the external borders. Learning the lessons of the past, the Commission is proposing to almost triple funding for the crucial areas of migration and border management.

1. Securing the EU’s external borders

The effective protection of the EU’s external borders is crucial to manage migration and ensure internal security. Strong external borders are also what allow the EU to maintain a Schengen area without internal border controls. The Commission proposes to allocate €21.3 billion to border management overall and create a new Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF) worth more than €9.3 billion.

The key features of the new fund are:

The right set of priorities:

  • Strengthening Europe’s external borders: The new fund will continue and build on the work of the past years to better protect the EU’s borders with the roll-out of the European Border and Coast Guard, systematic checks at the borders, new large-scale and interoperable IT systems, including a future Entry/Exit system. Funding will be channelled towards tackling migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings as well as intercepting and stopping those who pose a threat, support for search and rescue at sea, equipment and training for border guards, and swift operational support for Member States under pressure;
  • Stronger and more efficient visa policy: The fund will also ensure the EU’s visa policy continues to evolve and modernise, whilst strengthening security and mitigating irregular migration risks;

– Support to Member States: The new fund will devote €4.8 billion in long-term funding to support Member States’ border management measures and visa policy. The funding will acutely reflect Member States’ needs and a review at mid-term will take account of new or additional pressures. Each Member State will receive a fixed sum of €5 million with the remainder distributed based on the workload, pressure and threat level at external land borders (30%), external sea borders (35%), airports (20%) and consular offices (15%);

– A flexible and fast response: €3.2 billion will be devoted to targeted support to Member States, EU-level projects and to address urgent needs. The new fund has been designed to ensure sufficient flexibility to channel emergency funding to Member States when needed and address new and critical priorities as they emerge;

Better customs control equipment on external borders: The new instrument will devote €1.3 billion to help Member States purchase, maintain and replace state-of-the-art customs equipment such as new scanners, automated number plate detection systems, teams of sniffer dogs and mobile laboratories for sample analysis;

Reinforcing EU border management agencies: Outside of this fund and to be presented separately, more than €12 billion will be dedicated to further strengthening the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and EU-LISA.

2. Migration: supporting a robust, realistic and fair policy

The Commission is proposing to increase funding for migration by 51% to reach €10.4 billion under the renewed Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF). The Fund will support Member States’ efforts in three key areas: asylum, legal migration and integration, and countering irregular migration and returns. The key features of the new fund are:

The right set of priorities: The new fund will continue its vital support to national asylum systems and will place a renewed focus on channelling EU funding to the most pressing issues, such as:

  • A stronger and more efficient European asylum system: The fund will help strengthen and develop all aspects of the Common European Asylum System, including its external dimension;
  • Greater support for legal migration and integration: The fund will devote additional resources to support the early integration of non-EU nationals staying lawfully in the EU in the short-term, complemented by funding under the Cohesion funds for longer-term socio-economic integration;
  • Faster and more frequent returns: The fund will support a more coordinated approach to countering irregular migration, improve the effectiveness of returns and further intensify cooperation with non-EU countries on readmission;

– Support for Member States: The fund will devote €6.3 billion in long-term funding to support Member States in managing migration, reflecting Member State’s needs. A review at mid-term will take account of new or additional pressures. Each Member State will receive a fixed sum of €5 million with the remainder distributed based on an assessment of the pressures faced and taking into account proportions in the area of asylum (30%), legal migration and integration (30%) and countering irregular migration and return (40%);

– Better preparedness: €4.2 billion will be reserved for targeted support to Member States, projects with a real European added value such as resettlement or for responding to urgent needs and channelling emergency funding to Member States when and where they need it;

– Greater coordination across EU funding instruments: The asylum and migration fund will be complemented by the additional funds dedicated under the EU’s external policy instruments to stepping up cooperation on migration with partner countries, including efforts to tackle irregular migration, improve opportunities in countries of origin, enhance cooperation on return and readmission and legal migration;

– Reinforcing EU agencies: Outside of this fund and to be presented separately, almost €900 million will be dedicated to further strengthening the new European Union Agency for Asylum.

Next steps

A swift agreement on the overall long-term EU budget and its sectoral proposals is essential to ensure that EU funds start delivering results on the ground as soon as possible.

Delays could jeopardise the European Union’s ability to respond to future crises should they arise and could starve projects of vital funds – such as the EU-wide Assisted Voluntary Return and Readmission programmes and the continuation of EU-funding for resettlement.

An agreement on the next long-term budget in 2019 would provide for a seamless transition between the current long-term budget (2014-2020) and the new one, and would ensure predictability and continuity of funding to the benefit of all.

Background

Border management and migration have been a political priority since the beginning of the Juncker Commission’s mandate – from President Juncker’s Political Guidelines of July 2014 to the latest State of the Union address on 13 September 2017.

However, the scale and urgency of 2015-16 refugee crisis took Europe by surprise. To avert a humanitarian crisis and enable a joint response to this unprecedented challenge as well as new security threats, the EU used all flexibility in the existing budget to mobilise additional funds. From the original allocations for 2014-20 of €6.9 billion for the AMIF and ISF (Borders and Police) funds, an additional €3.9 billion was mobilised to reach €10.8 billion for migration, border management and internal security – and this does not even include the large amount of funding mobilised to address the refugee crisis outside the EU.

Learning the lessons from the past, the Commission is now proposing to double funding across the board, with €10.4 billion for migration, €9.3 billion for border management, €2.5 billion for internal security and €1.2 billion for safer decommissioning of nuclear activities in some Member States – reaching over €23 billion overall.

In addition, support to EU Agencies in security, border and migration management will be increased from €4.2 billion to €14 billion.

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