S&D Group leads the way towards a new era for European funding on Asylum, Migration and Integration
Led by S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume, the European Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee backed a proposal today, with a large majority, to establish an Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), which will run for a seven-year period from 2014. This new financial instrument will help the EU achieve its strategic objectives, namely in supporting the Common European Asylum System and facilitating legal migration to the EU.
The proposal adopted creates a single fund replacing the previous integration, refugee and returns funds. Along with simplified and improved operating rules, AMIF represents an increase of almost 50% in the amounts available under those funds (with a total budget of €3,137 million compared to the €2,115 million managed by the three previous funds together).
During what were intensive and often difficult negotiations, at the insistence of the European Socialists and Democrats, it was agreed that the member states should provide a fair distribution of resources among the different fields of activities involved and thus use at least 20% of the allocations they will receive from the fund for asylum and at least 20% for integration.
Following the vote, Sylvie Guillaume, who has led the Parliament's negotiations with EU governments over the past year, said:
"I am very pleased that the European Parliament has successfully ensured that the necessary flexibility built into the new fund will not come at the expense of a fair and transparent distribution of the resources available. This means that the priority areas of 'asylum' and 'integration' should be the big winners in the implementation of the fund.
"I am particularly delighted that member states are obliged to involve civil society and international organisations fully in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the fund at national level. Beyond their experience and expertise, they act as a safeguard promoting a fair and well-targeted distribution of the funds available."
In addition, the Parliament’s negotiating team also ensured an enhanced results-based approach with a greater focus on the quality of projects funded under the new instrument. It also enshrined the need for greater co-ordination among the relevant players at EU level so that any actions taken under the fund in third countries are entirely consistent with the EU's external and development policy.
Despite the overall very positive result, the lead negotiator was unhappy with the Council's unwillingness to accept the principle of solidarity enshrined in Article 80 of the Treaty as a driver of EU action in the area of asylum, migration and integration. It is also unsatisfactory that member states insisted on cutting the provisional resources available at EU level for resettlement, choosing instead to maintain the integrity of the national envelopes available under the fund.
"Although the improvements are considerable, I deeply regret the fact that in the aftermath of the Lampedusa tragedy member states remain unwilling to turn rhetoric into action and take up the challenge of a European migration policy with greater solidarity at EU level", highlighted Sylvie Guillaume.
The vote today paves the way for a vote in the plenary session of the European Parliament in early March, which should allow for the timely establishment of the new fund and the release of resources for the different beneficiaries.