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Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund

On 13 March, the European Parliament approved the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2014- 2020, which replaces the European Refugee Fund, the European Integration Fund and the European Return Fund. The commentary presents an overview of the main changes in resources allocation and discussion on 'partnership' principle.

For the next 7 years AMIF sets minimum amounts to be spent on asylum and integration policies. Along with this Fund a new Internal Security Fund has been adopted, aimed at improving police cooperation, border surveillance and crime prevention. [1] This closes a long negotiating period starting in November 2011 when the European Commission published a set of legislative proposals on EU funding in the area of home affairs for the period 2014-2020.

There has been a decrease in the funding available in comparison with the EC proposal [2].

NGOs have been trying to influence the shape of the Fund and they have been in certain points successful. [3] One of the biggest battles for the civil society community has been the question around the partnership principle, which would make sure that NGOs at national level need to be consulted by the governments before the priorities for the next seven years would be adopted.  In some Member States this has already been the case and it is not illogical. Non-governmental actors provide much needed assistance to asylum seekers, refugees and other categories of migrants, and as such have an in-depth understanding of their situation and needs.

The Commission proposals included the establishment of a “partnership” with key stakeholders for the development and implementation of the national programmes but it did not oblige Member States to consult with all stakeholders including the civil society. NGOs have engaged in several statements and advocacy meetings with the negotiating actors, mainly with the European Parliament.

As a result, the final text of the Regulation currently states that partnership “shall include relevant international organisations, non-governmental organisations and social partners.“

The practical implementation of the principle in the Member states will need to be closely followed as many Member States are not used to such cooperation with civil society.

In the beginning it was also not very clear how the resources from AMIF will be allocated and there was a fear that Member states will be free to allocate most of the resources for example on return policies rather than on asylum systems or integration. Although there is no harmonized determination of the resources allocation, at least 20% of the €2.7 billion that Member States will draw from the AMIF, will be spent on measures to support legal migration and promote effective integration of third country nationals. Member States will also be obliged to allocate at least an additional 20% of the funds to asylum measures[4]

The co-funding will normally be 25% but can be reduced to 10%, and in specific cases even to 0%.

Member States taking asylum seekers under the EU's resettlement programme will receive a lump sum of €6,000 for each resettled person, which can be increased up to €10,000 for vulnerable persons or persons coming from priority areas. Next to resettlement, also ad hoc humanitarian admission shall be funded under the AMIF[5]

Civil society has also welcomed the inclusion of several references to the respect of fundamental rights, inclusion of an explicit possibility to finance alternatives to detention and the fact that all Member States can benefit of AMIF funding for training of staff/asylum procedures etc. (not only MS with structural difficulties).

Funding will also still be possibly provided for mainstream integration activities that would include asylum seekers. This has also been one of the main points of NGOs which have suffered in the past with too narrow target groups in project calls.

The new AMIF has a clear strong focus on return although funding clearly should prioritize voluntary return and assisted voluntary return and reintegration [6] related activities. The new fund also allows for financing detention centres.

The Fund should also complement and “reinforce” activities of FRONTEX including joint return operations. The fund shall also assist Member States in operational assistance at the external borders that MAY also involve humanitarian emergencies and rescue at sea. [7]

Each Member State has to prepare a national annual plan for the area. There are delays in this for all the Member States, and they will most probably not be ready before the summer 2014, which means that the national calls for proposals will only emerge in about Autumn 2014.

The Czech Ministry of the Interior plans to start the realization of projects from January 2015 and to publish calls for proposals in the second half of 2014. The Czech national programme shall devote about 50% of the funds on integration, 30% to return and about 20% to asylum and refugees.

It is crucial to now the follow up on the new Regulation and monitor its actual implementation in the national legislations. 

Internal Security Fund

The civil liberties committee also endorsed the EP-Council deal on the Internal Security Fund (ISF) which will support external border and visa management, with funding to the tune of €2.8 billion up to 2020 [8]. Inter alia, the money will be used to build infrastructures and systems needed at border crossing points and for border surveillance, fund IT systems required by the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), as well as actions aimed at the efficient management of migration flows, processing of visa applications and consular co-operation.

It is a huge amount of money given that this is not all money that border management costs all Europeans. There are additional national expenditures going into these systems.

The more worrying to me is the current EU Smart borders package proposal (including an entry-exit system and Registered travellers programme). The initial guess of the cost is about 1 billion EUR which according to studies published on this might become several times higher. [9]

esf_eu_logo

This article has been funded from the project "Integration of Labour Migrants in the Czech Republic: Reinforcing the role of the Czech towns", CZ.1.04/5.1.01/77.00030, supported by the European Social Fund in the Czech Republic via the OP LZZ program.


[1] The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) has a total budget for 2014-2020 of €3.1 billion. Parliament and Council negotiators agreed that €2.7 billion will go to national programmes (€360 million for resettlement) and €385 million to Union actions, emergency and technical assistance and the European Migration Network.

[2] Decrease from 3.2 bn to 2.7 bn. The funding remains the same for Member States. The cuts impact on resettlement and Union Actions and funding foreseen for the "mid-term review" has been removed.

[3] On the main NGO demands see our text from 2012

[4] Art 15(1)(a) of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) ( Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, amending Council Decision 2008/381/EC and repealing Decisions No 573/2007/EC and No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Decision 2007/435/EC, see here: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=PE%20142%202013%20INIT)

[5] Art 7 AMIF

[6] Art 19 (1)(c) AMIF

[7] Recital 46 AMIF

[8] €1.5 billion will be earmarked for national programmes, €791 million for managing migration flows across the EU's external borders, €154 for the Special Transit Scheme and €264 million for Union actions and emergency and technical assistance

[9] EP study, Commission study to be published in March 2014

Karolína Babická
Karolína Babická works as migration and asylum policy and advocacy officer in European Brussels-based NGO. She holds a PhD in international law from Charles University in Prague and Odysseus Network Certificate in EU Migration and Asylum Law.
Karolína Babická
Karolína Babická absolvovala doktorské studium na Právnické fakultě University Karlovy v Praze a je držitelkou Odysseus Network Certificate in EU Migration and Asylum Law. Věnuje se politické a advokační činnosti v oblasti migrace a azylu jako zaměstnanec jedné z celoevropských NNO sídlících v Bruselu.
15. 4. 14
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