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10/12/2016

Parliament refuses to allocate more EU aid money to migration crisis

Global Europe

Parliament refuses to allocate more EU aid money to migration crisis

Claudia Schmidt

[European Parliament]

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.

Auditors slam EU migration response as ‘incoherent’

The European Court of Auditors has published a damning report on the EU’s migration policy, as the Council prepares to agree on a deal with Turkey later today (Thursday 17 March), condemning it as incoherent and lacking in strategy. EurActiv France reports.

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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.

International aid efforts dwarfed by scale of refugee crisis

European countries are diverting development and humanitarian aid to tackle the refugee crisis. But a severe lack of funding and restrictions on aid donations undermine the efficiency of their efforts. EurActiv France reports

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More efficiency

“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.

EU wary of using development aid to contain migration

After the Lampedusa tragedy, several EU leaders have called for development aid to be targeted toward countries, mostly in Africa, which are a major source of illegal immigration. The European Commission admits that there is a link between giving aid and containing migratory flows, whilst insisting that the two tracks are completely separate. 

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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.

Reform could see more aid money diverted to refugee crisis

Donor countries will adopt new rules on official development assistance on 18 and 19 February. The accounting of costs linked to security, refugees and the fight against extremism will be up for discussion. EurActiv France reports.

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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.

Background

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.

Further Reading