Refugees: BUDG MEPs welcome new emergency assistance and fast-track new aid
Budgets Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva presented on Wednesday the new €700 million instrument for emergency assistance within the EU to Budget MEPs. The instrument’s recent launch was triggered by the high number of refugees on Greece’s northern border. MEPs said they support making the new assistance funds available but warned that the ad-hoc approach with the creation of several new instruments, facilities or trust funds in the context of the refugee crisis must not become the rule.
José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), rapporteur for the EU Budget 2016, underlined that the European Parliament can and will act rapidly if there is urgency. He criticized that the new instrument is limited to the next three years – until 2018 – and that through the creation of ever new instruments to deal with the refugee crisis, in part outside the EU Budget, the unity of the EU budget is in danger.
“We will approve this initiative without restrictions or conditions but launch a strong appeal that the European Parliament must be better involved and not be side-lined. It cannot be that every time someone uses the word urgency we just wave everything through”, he said.
Most MEPs agreed with the rapporteur. “It is sad that we now have to find this money for the refugees because the member states are looking the other way”, said Eider Gardiazabal (S&D, ES). Others demanded more rapid procedures for the disbursement of emergency funds or asked if it was clear whether there is a capacity to absorb this finance.
Refugee crisis will drive MFF revision
The rapporteurs for the upcoming mid-term revision of the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of the EU, Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL) and Isabelle Thomas (S&D, FR), underlined that current ways of dealing with the crisis show that the MFF is not adapted to such a situation. Ms Thomas urged to create a “more flexible emergency reserve” inside the EU Budget. Mr Olbrycht, referring to the recently created trust funds and the Turkey Refugee Facility, emphasised that setting up such “initiatives with parallel budgets” is “not an emergency any more, it is a change of system”.
Budget Commissioner and Commission Vice-President Georgieva said: “Humanitarian aid was provided to third countries only. With the new emergency assistance instrument this has changed”. Referring to the MEPs’ worries, she admitted that “the world has changed, our budget has not” and promised to better involve the European Parliament.
At the same meeting, the Committee on Budgets approved at record speed a mobilization of the emergency aid reserve of €150 million to reinforce the humanitarian aid budget for refugees and internally displaced persons in Syria, Iraq, turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
The Commission has so far proposed a first draft amending budget for 2016 (DAB1) for a first tranche of €100 million in commitment appropriations to cover the immediate funding needs of the new instrument, awaiting a further needs assessment for the year as a whole. The Parliament will vote on the DAB1 during the April plenary session already, effectively fast-tracking the procedure.
Note to editors
The European Commission has proposed an emergency assistance instrument to be used within the European Union to provide a faster response to major crises, including helping member states cope with large numbers of refugees. The initiative comes as the refugee crisis reaches an unprecedented scale with the need to provide immediate emergency support in several Member States hosting large amounts of refugees on their territories. Its estimated needs in 2016 are €300 million with a further €200 million each for use in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
In the Chair: Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR)