The European Parliament on Thursday (1 December) adopted spending by the European Union of nearly €158 billion for 2017, including a hefty increase to tackle the migration crisis and terrorism.
The 28-nation EU’s elected assembly approved the 2017 budget by 438 votes for, 194 against and seven abstentions.
The budget earmarks €157.86 billion for programmes and projects spanning more than one year, compared to commitments of €155 billion in 2016.
The agreement came on the heels of a deal brokered in mid-November by Slovakia, which currently holds the 6-months rotating EU Presidency.
The European Council, which groups the member states, said the 2017 budget includes six billion euros – 11.3% more than in 2016 – to help tackle the migration crisis and security.
For the last year or so, the EU has been faced with the biggest migration influx since World War II, with more than one million people entering the bloc to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
Europe has also faced a wave of jihadist attacks in France, Belgium and Germany that has left more than 200 people dead since January 2015.
The council said the funds are aimed at helping member states resettle refugees, create reception centres for migrants, integrate those who have the right to stay in Europe and send back those who do not.
They will also boost protection on Europe’s borders and aid crime prevention and counter-terrorism activities.
Parliament was also happy to announce €500 million extra for the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), a programme which helps youngsters find a job or training within four months of ending their studies or becoming unemployed.
Despite official statements backing the YEI, EU member states have pushed behind the scenes for shaving the budget initially allocated to the scheme.