EU reinforces 2017 budget on migration and jobs
By Eszter Zalan
EU member states and European Parliament have reached an agreement on a budget for next year that focuses on tackling the migration crisis and creating jobs.
After 20 hours of discussions, a deal was reached early on Thursday (17 November) to set the total commitments for 2017 at €157.88 billion and payments at €134.49 billion.
"The 2017 EU budget will thus help buffer against shocks, providing a boost to our economy and helping to deal with issues like the refugee crisis," budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said.
The budget commits €5.91 billion to tackling the migration crisis and reinforcing security, an 11.3 percent increase on 2016's figure, according to a statement from the EU Council, which represents member states.
The money will help EU countries resettle refugees, create reception centres, and return those who have no right to stay.
Extra spending will also go to help enhance border protection, crime prevention, counter terrorism activities and protect critical infrastructure.
A total of €21.3 billion was put aside to boost economic growth and create new jobs, which is an increase of around 12 percent compared with this year, the council said. The Erasmus+ scheme, a cross-border student programme, will see an increase of its budget of 19 percent.
The 2017 budget also includes €500 million for youth unemployment, and a €42.6 billion support for farmers.
Georgieva commended the Slovak rotating EU presidency for creating a "yes, we can do it" atmosphere in the negotiating room.
Ivan Lesay, the Slovak state secretary called the discussions a "demanding marathon".
The commissioner also highlighted small programmes designed to reinforce young people's European identity.
The EU will create a so-called solidarity corps, designed to offer people under 30 a chance to support a non-governmental organisation (NGO), local authority or private company helping local communities and a pilot to help young people to travel around Europe with free access to rail service.
The deal is expected to be formally adopted by the council on 29 November and the parliament on 1 December.