European Union
European Union

The European Union (EU) has to make more budget room for new commitments to tackle the migration and refugee crisis through next year’s budget, European Commission’s Vice President in charge of budget issues Kristalina Georgieva told Xinhua in an interview conducted Thursday on the sidelines of the European Foundation Centre (EFC)’s annual conference.

European Union
European Union
“We have to make sure that our budget for next year absorbs all the commitments made so far to deal with the migration crisis, while at the same time making room for new commitments,” said Georgieva.

She cited three new priorities relating to the immigration crisis which require additional funds in 2017 — the new European Border and Coast Guard to protect the EU external borders, the Commission’s new proposals on the reform of the Common European Asylum System to distribute asylum seekers across the continent, and the commitments made at the Support Syria conference in London earlier this year.

For the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in its proposal presented late last year the Commission suggested an overall budget of 1,212 million euros (1,356 million U.S. dollars) for the next four years, namely 281 million euros in 2017, 298 million in 2018, 310 million in 2019 and 322 million in 2020.

The commitments made in London included a 3-billion-euro promise to assist the Syrians in Syria as well as refugees and the communities hosting them in the neighbouring countries for the year 2016.

“We have to implement these commitments and at the same time create more room for the unexpected,” said Georgieva. “We have exhausted to a great extend flexibilities offered within the budget. Member states and the European Parliament (EP) need to allow more room for flexibilities.”

The European Commission expects some 3 million asylum seekers to arrive in the EU by 2017, with 1.5 million in 2016 and half a million in 2017 while around 1 million arriving last year.

For 2016 the EU allocated 10.5 billion euros on spending related to dealing with the refugee crisis, up from 4.5 billion euros a year earlier. Its total budget amounted to 143.5 billion euros.

Earlier this month, Georgieva, who used to be EU Commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid, notified members of the European Parliament’s budget committee that the draft proposal required extra preparation time in order to adapt to new spending needed to deal with the migration crisis.

Under the EU budgetary procedure, the Commission is bound to put forward a yearly draft budget for the coming year before Sept. 1 as part of the 2014-2020 long-term budget. Usually the proposal is published by the end of May or at the beginning of June. Once published the proposal is discussed by the members of the European Parliament and the EU governments, who take the final decision.

Around 500 delegates from NGOs, academia, policy makers and representatives of private foundations were present at the EFC’s three-day conference in the Dutch city to discuss solutions and ways to fund programs to address the refugee crisis and other worldwide challenges.

“Around 130 million people are currently displaced around the world,” Georgieva told the conference. “If we imagine that these people were the population of a single country, this country would be the 10th largest and the fastest growing in the world.”

“We need to bring resources in a coordinated coherent manner, to meet the needs of the people that are left behind. We spent last year 28 billion dollars compared to just 2 billion dollars in 2000, but we are still 15 billion dollars short,” she added.

A report on humanitarian financing by a high-level panel earlier this year estimated 40 billion dollars are needed to help 125 million people suffering from wars, earthquakes, floods and other crises in 2005. (1 euro=1.12 U.S. dollar) Enditem

by Maria Vasileiou / Xinhua / NewsGhana.com.gh

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