Overcrowded refugee centres lacking even basic supplies have become a more frequent sight in many EU border states in the wake of the crisis. MEPs voted on 6 February to increase EU money to help these countries cope with migration flows. We spoke to Finnish Liberal MEP Nils Torvalds, who is responsible for steering the plans through Parliament, about why he recommended approval of the Commission's proposal.
What impact has the crisis had on EU migration management? Why is it important to ensure the financing of these funds?
Many of the EU border states are in deep economic trouble. This has led to a situation where we handle asylum seekers in a way that is, frankly speaking, unacceptable.
A delegation of the civil liberties committee recently visited Greece and saw some of the facilities for refugees and they were just horrified. There were too many people in too small places, without the services they should be allowed to have. In order to even slightly improve the situation, I agree with the Commission that we should allocate more money to these border countries.
How does this situation affect the EU as a whole?
It's a very profound problem. If you take the Greek example, you can see that they don't have a very efficient government and civil service and we should help them with that. But that also creates new questions regarding our budget: how much can we do and who's willing to share these burdens?
This is a temporary measure. What should a permanent solution look like?
We all know that we will need a lot of workers in Europe in the coming decades due to our ageing population. I am myself a good example. I was born in 1945 during the baby boom after the war and we all know what's going to happen: in 20 or 30 years I'll be six feet under. So we will need new hands to take care of things. But changing a mindset is never easy. When things are changing people tend to be afraid and start to behave in a strange way. I sometimes feel very uneasy about how politicians tend to give easy answers to these complicated questions.
Covers 4 funds making up "Solidarity and management of migratory flows" framework: European Refugee Fund, European Return Fund, European Fund for Integration of third-country nationals and External Borders Fund.
Increased co-financing of the migration-related funds for member states included in the financial support mechanisms.
Co-financing (part financed by the EU) to increase 20 percentage points to 70%. For countries covered by the cohesion fund the increased rate would be maximum 95%