MEPs yesterday (28 April) blocked a motion to increase spending from the European Development Fund on the migration crisis, resisting the creeping securitisation of aid spending. EURACTIV France reports.
The migration crisis has pushed the European Union and the member states to rethink their international aid contributions. Many national aid budgets, as well as EU funds, are now being used to tackle the migration crisis, strengthen border controls and fight terrorism.
This new direction for aid spending is siphoning much-needed money away from projects related to health, education and food security in developing countries.
Aid and migration
As European lawmakers this Thursday (28 April) adopted the budgetary discharge for the EU’s main development aid tool, the European Development Fund (EDF), a cross-party majority strongly criticised the fact that European aid is increasingly being diverted to tackle the migration crisis.
The centre-right EPP group had presented a measure to officially re-direct up to 25% of the EDF to measures to deal with migration.
MEP Claudia Schmidt, an Austrian Christian Democrat (EPP group), and rapporteur on the bill, said, “We need to fight the root causes of migration more. European development aid needs to be used more efficiently to prevent future migration.”
But opposition from the Socialists and Greens ensured the proposal did not pass.
“The Socialists and the Greens are denying reality and are acting against the will of the citizens,” Schmidt said.
“We must stop the undifferentiated and unfocused development aid of the past. […] European development money must be used more efficiently,” she added.
For the Socialists, the idea of allocating more of the development budget to the migration crisis was unacceptable. The S&D group’s rapporteur on the issue, the German MEP Iris Hoffmann, countered that the EPP proposal with an amendment rejecting “the call of the European People’s Party to devote 25% of the European Development Fund for 2014-2020 on measures to combat the migration crisis and on the management of existing migration flows, including border security and repatriation of refugees”.
“The great flexibility of the EDF already allows it to adapt to the growing importance of migration,” a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV France. “Even without a specific allocation, the EDF is flexible enough.”
The European Development Fund has a budget of around €30.5 billion for the period 2014-2020. This represents around 30% of the EU’s total external aid budget, making the EDF one of the main instruments of cooperation between Europe and the developing countries of Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The financial tool is negotiated outside the EU’s general budget, with each member state contributing a proportion of the funds, but it is managed by the European Union. This organisation has attracted criticism for its lack of transparency, and the question of its being integrated into the EU budget is often raised.
Over a million Middle Eastern and African refugees arrived in Europe in 2015
The European Union has struggled to present a united front in the face of Europe's biggest migration crisis since the Second World War.
In May 2015, a European Commission proposal based on the solidarity principle to redirect asylum seekers from the most-affected areas of the EU to other countries was rejected by member states.
- European Parliament: Budgetary discharge 2014 - EDF
- European Parliament: European Development Fund
- European Parliament: Joint development cooperation and the EU budget: out or in?
- European Commission: European Development Fund
- European Commission: EDF Annual accounts 2014