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24th Feb 2020

EU-financed migration projects ignore human rights

  • The European Court of Auditors issued a critical report on how the EU spends money on migration projects (Photo: Images_of_Money)

EU-funded migration projects in North Africa and Eastern Europe have not achieved their goals and have broadly ignored human rights, the EU's financial watchdog says.

In a 70-page report out on Thursday (17 March), the European Court of Auditors found that respect for human rights "remains theoretical and is only rarely translated into practice".

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“EU spending on migration in the neighbourhood countries will only be effective if clear objectives are set," said the report's author Daniele Lamarque in a statement.

The broad criticism comes in the run-up to an EU summit with Turkey that seeks to rapidly return rejected migrants from Greek islands to Turkey.

The auditors looked into 23 EU-funded projects on migration between 2007 and 2013 in Algeria, Georgia, Libya, Moldova, Morocco and Ukraine.

The projects, with a total contract value of €89 million, were intended to feed into the priorities outlined in the EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM).

Those priorities included setting up close partnerships and "further regional integration".

But the lack of clear objectives, overly complex governance, and bad coordination by EU institutions and others involved in the projects undermined the goals.

The auditors noted that EU delegations heading the projects had no migration experts, and specialists hired by the European Commission did not show up to work.

"None were in post in any of the neighbourhood countries or in any mobility partnership partner country at the time of the audit," says the report.

It says the EU commission headquarters in Brussels, at times, had also neglected to follow up on recommendations on how to best implement local projects.

Few of the audited projects had any result indicators to measure achievements.

Returns and readmission projects broadly failed to deliver because they were regarded by the receiving countries as part of the EU's security policy.

The security aspect made it "hard for them to accept" while EU states neglected to prepare migrants for their return home, the report states.

Lack of oversight and accountability also means the auditors have no idea how much of the total €1.4 billion over the period was actually spent.

The auditors were only able to account for €304 million, owing in part "to weaknesses in the commission's information systems".

The EU's diplomatic branch, the EEAS, along with other department heads in the commission, are responsible for finances.

The EU commission, for its part, says the report pre-dates projects under the Jean-Claude Juncker mandate.

"Things have changed, the report is outdated and does not seem to be in synch with seeking the solutions we need in the current crisis. At the time of the report we did not face the issues we face now," it said in a statement.

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