Juncker expects EU leaders to pledge €2.25 billion for refugee fund

Jean-Claude Juncker has put the Polish issue on the College agenda. [European Commission]

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said today (15 October) – just hours before the start of the EU summit – that the heads of state and government need to deliver on their promise to contribute a total of €2.25 billion to help address the refugee crisis.

“Member states got to do what they promised on the 23rd of September”, said Juncker, referring to the last EU summit, when the decision to contribute also with national funding was adopted. Also, the countries agreed in principle to contribute personnel to Frontex, the EU border protection agency.

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The extraordinary summit on 23 September ended with a short statement in which one sentence says:

“We want operational decisions on the most pressing issues before the October European Council, along the following orientations: […] increase the funding of the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa through additional contributions by Member States; tackle the dramatic situation at our external borders and strengthen controls at those borders, including through additional resources for Frontex, EASO and Europol, and with personnel and equipment from Member States”.

Juncker said that these were things the Commission was still waiting for.

“These pledges, in terms of staffing, in Greece and elsewhere, and generally – there is a significant amount of money not forthcoming, the member states are delaying the provision of the 2.25 billion which is still not available. That was a decision adopted on the 23rd of September. And now it’s a question of credibility – the credibility of the European Council and the member states as well, that they live up to their promises.

Juncker said the Commission had submitted all the necessary budgetary proposals for the disbursement of its part of the necessary amounts, and that the European Parliament had also done what needed to be done. He was speaking alongside Parliament President Martin Schulz, with whom he said he would always have meetings before EU summits.

“So it’s time for the member states to deliver as well, and that’s what we are going to talk today”, Juncker said.

euractiv.com asked Juncker if as a former prime minister he thought it was easier to spend EU money than national funds, and if he really believed the sum of €2.25 would be pledged by EU leaders today.

Juncker denied that it was easier to spend EU money. “This is taxpayers’ money. If you are in the national budget framework or in the EU budget framework, it’s exactly the same”, he said.

He said he would remind member states about their commitment, and then there were two options.

“Member states will have to tell us: No, no, no, we are not implementing the decisions we have taken on 23rd of September. That would be a major information for me, for the parliament. Or they will say we are sticking to our commitments. I want them to stick to their commitments”, Juncker said. 

A Commission document dated 14 October reveals what monies countries have pledged so far.

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