Tuesday

14th Aug 2018

Refugee spending to be exempt from EU deficit rules

  • Countries along the migration route pledged to do more for refugees, and the costs could be exempt from EU deficit rules

EU budget deficit rules can be stretched for governments which spend money on refugees, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Tuesday (27 October).

Under EU rules, member states have to keep their budget deficits under 3 percent of GDP or face fines.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But Juncker promised to take into the account spending associated with the refugee crisis,when checking if member states stick to the rules.

“We will be able to bear in mind the costs entailed by refugee policy, more than we have done up to now,” Juncker said in a speech to the European Parliament.

He added that there would be a country-by-country assessment.

“If a country makes a huge effort, there should be a commensurate understanding of what they have done,” he added.

“There will be a certain amount of flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact”.

The EU’s Stability and Growth Pact is a set of fiscal rules which include the 3 percent red line.

The Commission president also said that if a country is unable to prove that it is affected by the costs of the refugee policy, it will not be eligible for the leeway.

Earlier this month, Austria’s finance minister cast doubt on whether countries struggling with the influx of refugees can stick to their budget plans.

"There are some countries in the euro zone that are really affected by the cost of the refugees and I don't think it would be right if we said we were unable to reach a zero structural deficit due to the costs of the refugee crisis and then still got punished by the Commission," Hans Joerg Schelling said after a meeting of eurozone finance chiefs.

Other countries sounded more wary, with Belgian minister Johan Van Overtveldt saying: "Our opinion is that we should be very careful."

He warned that rules should not be changed "whenever something happens in the world."

Among the countries on the Western Balkan migrant route, Croatia, Slovenia, and Greece are already in breach of the EU deficit rules.

Spending in Austria, Hungary, and Germany might also be at risk of being stretched by the crisis.

EU budget is limited

Juncker called on member states, the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank (EIB) to think about methods of additional financing to find the money “we need to meet the crisis.”

He said the EU budget is limited, and the Commission has already made all the emergency funds available.

“The EU budget is too small to deal by itself with the problems we face,” he said.

The EC president also called on the member states to deliver faster on what they have promised to do so.

“We need to speed up hotspots and relocation, relocation is not working the best way possible,” he added.

Balkan migrant route plan full of caveats

The success of the action plan agreed by EU and Balkan leaders on Sunday will depend on funding, member state cooperation and migrants' good will. None of them are guaranteed yet.

Opinion

Deficit ceilings are not political toys

Jean-Claude Juncker's pledge to stretch the 3 percent deficit ceiling for member states hosting migrants is a good idea for crisis management, but it can also increase creative accounting and political meddling.

EU expects 3mn migrants by 2017

The Commission expects 3 million people to come to Europe by 2017, in its first assessment of the economic costs and benefits of the migrant crisis.

News in Brief

  1. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  2. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  3. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  4. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  5. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  6. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions
  7. Masked youths set dozens of cars alight in Sweden
  8. Spain and Italy refuse new Aquarius-rescued migrants

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  2. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  3. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  4. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia
  5. 14 lobbyist meetings with Oettinger and Canete went unminuted
  6. UK poll suggests Brits would now vote Remain
  7. Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation
  8. Nordic and Baltic farmers urgently need EU support

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us