The European Commission has awarded an additional €45.6 million in emergency assistance to support Spain and Greece respond to the migratory challenges they face. Spain will receive €25.6 million to improve the reception capacity for arrivals at its southern coast and in Ceuta and Melilla as well as to help increase returns. Another €20 million has been awarded to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to improve reception conditions in Greece, notably on the island of Lesvos, the European Commission said in a statement on Monday.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship said: “The Commission continues to deliver on its commitment to support Member States under pressure. Spain has seen arrival figures increase during the past year and we need to step up our support to help manage the numbers and return those who have no right to stay. And while the EU-Turkey Statement has greatly contributed to lowering the number of arrivals in Greece, the country is still facing significant migratory pressure, in particular on the islands. Over €1 billion has now been awarded in emergency assistance to help Member States manage migration.”
With the new funding decisions an important milestone has been reached: In total, the Commission has now mobilised over €1 billion in emergency assistance to help manage migration under the current financial framework (2014-2020) – support that has gone to the Member States most affected such as Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Sweden and now also Spain.
- €24.8 million has been awarded to the Ministry of Employment and Social Security and the Spanish Red Cross for a project aimed at providing healthcare, food, and shelter to migrants arriving on the southern coast of Spain and in Ceuta and Melilla.
- A further €720,000 has been awarded to the Ministry of Interior to help improve the quality of return facilities and infrastructure for return transfers.
The emergency funding awarded to Spain comes on top of €692 million allocated to Spain for migration, border and security management under national programmes for the period 2014-2020.
- The additional €20 million awarded to the UNHCR will be used to help manage the reception facilities in the island of Lesvos, support local community projects and provide further emergency accommodation on the islands.
- It will also go towards stepping up measures for the protection of children, non-formal education and to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.
This funding decision comes on top of more than €1.6 billion of funding support awarded by the Commission since 2015 to address migration challenges in Greece.
Border management and migration have been political priorities since the beginning of the Juncker Commission’s mandate – from President Juncker’s Political Guidelines of July 2014 to the latest State of the Union address on 13 September 2017.
However, the scale and urgency of 2015-16 refugee crisis took Europe by surprise. To avert a humanitarian crisis and enable a joint response to this unprecedented challenge as well as new security threats, the EU has been using all the flexibility in the existing budget to mobilise additional funds. From the original allocations for 2014-20 of €6.9 billion for the AMIF and ISF (Borders and Police) funds, an additional €3.9 billion was mobilised to reach €10.8 billion for migration, border management and internal security – and this does not even include the large amount of funding mobilised to address the refugee crisis outside the EU.
Learning the lessons from the past, the Commission is now proposing to double funding across the board, with €10.4 billion for migration, €9.3 billion for border management, €2.5 billion for internal security and €1.2 billion for safer decommissioning of nuclear activities in some Member States – reaching over €23 billion overall. In addition, support to EU Agencies in security, border and migration management will be increased from €4.2 billion to €14 billion. via European Commission
The Commission announces the additional funds just 3 days after Merkel announced she struck bilateral agreements with Spain and Greece for migrants’ returns from Germany.
So, the EU finances Germany’s bilateral agreements?