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BUDG MEPs warn about loss of democratic control in refugee aid setup

  • MEP walking near refugee camp
    MEP walking near refugee camp

Budgets Committee MEPs welcomed plans for the 3 billion Euro Refugee Facility for Turkey but voiced serious doubts about the proliferation of ad hoc instruments outside the EU budget and concerns whether the member states deliver on their commitments during a discussion with the Commission on the mid-term review of the EU long term spending plan (MFF) which, they believe, is under serious pressure amid the influx of the refugees and migrants to the EU and the geopolitical situation.

Isabelle Thomas (S&D, FR), the co-rapporteur for the EP’s input for the revision of the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 (MFF) underlined that MFF headings 3 and 4 corresponding to the expenses in the areas of border protection, immigration and asylum policy and the EU "foreign policy" respectively were hit the hardest and needed a radical overhaul. She was concerned about the 2 EU Trust Funds (for Africa, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey) as various ad hoc instruments including funds from both the EU member states and the EU Budget  could limit financing of those already envisaged in the agreed EU budget such as development or neighbourhood instruments. “One gets the impression that the EU Budget is being eroded and totally escapes democratic scrutiny by the European Parliament (...) we are losing rational budgetary approach", she added.

Jean Arthuis (EPP, FR), the BUDG Committee Chair stressed that the citizens currently cannot understand the complicated funding procedures. He insisted on the MFF revision and putting more money in it instead of creating satellite instruments outside the EU budget. "We should have budgetary unity and an eligible, comprehensible budget", he said.

The Commission representatives insisted that using the Trust Funds bring clear benefits. They can be used for mobilisation of funds outside the budget such as the contributions from the member states and possibly from the third countries like Switzerland, pooling the resources and better coordination of the urgent actions. They are also subject to the discharge procedure and the evaluation by the end of 2019.

In the Chair: Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR)

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