Friday

24th Nov 2017

MEPs beef up 2016 EU budget for migration and farmers

  • Tackling migration would get 1.2 billion euros in funding, according to the EP budget committee's plans (Photo: Frontex)

Members of the European Parliament’s budget committee voted on Tuesday (29 September) not only to reverse the previous cuts from the 2016 EU budget, but to pledge new funds to tackle the refugee crisis, help European farmers and restore funding for innovation and research programs.

Voting in the EP’s budget committee started on Monday, and dealt with 1,902 amendments.

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The committee proposed a budget of €157.4 billion in commitments - €4.4 billion more than previously agreed by member states' ministers - and €146.5 billion in payments. Commitments are contractual obligations that may span more than one year, while payments cover the proposed spending for the next 12-month period.

MEPs voted to reverse the council cuts in the European Commission’s original proposal.

The council decided earlier this month to reduce the €153.8 billion commitments proposal by €564 million, and the €143.5 billion payments allocation proposal by €1.42 billion.

The council, however, accepted an increase in payments of 0.6 percent compared with 2015 (€839 million).

MEPs added a total of €1.2 billion, under various budget headings, to help EU agencies manage the arrival and transfer of the recent influx of refugees and migrants; finance the relocation of a total of 160,000 refugees within Europe; help third countries outside the bloc; and bolster funding for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, that is supposed to promote the efficient management of migration flows.

The MEPs added €26 million for funding and staffing of those agencies that primarily deal with migration, like Frontex, the EU border agency, Europol, the EU police agency, Cepol, the European police college, Eurojust, the EU's judicial cooperation agency and others.

The second migration package, to cover the relocation of 120,000 migrants, worth €780 million, which was proposed by the European Commission earlier this month, was also included in the EP’s vote.

The draft pledged €500 million for dairy farmers hit by falling prices, a commitment previously supported by member states.

The committee added €473 million in credits for future programs of the initiative to reduce youth unemployment, and slated €14 million extra for the student mobility program, Erasmus+.

The MEPs also restored €1.3 billion of funding to the EU’s research and development program, Horizon2020, and efforts to develop transport and energy networks.

“Our amendments enable the budget to face up to the challenges posed by the refugee crisis, beef up programs in employment, and help dairy farmers,” said rapporteur on the 2016 Budget, José Manuel Fernandes MEP, in a statement.

The EP’s decision to top up funds is bound to clash with member states, who are keen to cut back on payments.

A resolution on the budget will be voted on in the EP plenary session at the end of October, then three weeks of “conciliation” talks will begin with member states.

The aim is to reach a compromise by mid-November.

Frontex to get budget hike after refugee failures

Frontex, the EU's external border agency, is being given a 54 percent budget rise next year as part of a new European Commission package of initiatives to tackle the continent's refugee and migrant crisis.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

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