European MPs approve extra funds to help refugees and fight terrorism

The European Parliament gave the green light for €100 million in EU emergency aid for refugees within the EU and €2 million to hire new staff for the EU law enforcement agency EUROPOL’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), in a vote on Wednesday.

Given the urgency of these measures, MEPs fast-tracked their approval of the funds, in the first draft amending budget of 2016. The procedure was completed in just over a month.

“I welcome this proposal to enable the EU budget to provide emergency support within EU territory in order to tackle the humanitarian consequences of the current refugee crisis. Parliament has acted swiftly by rapidly approving this amending budget”, said rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), whose report was approved by 584 votes to 64, with 33 abstentions.

“However, I deplore the fact that this initiative is yet another ad hoc mechanism, set up without an overall strategy to address this crisis and without fully observing Parliament’s prerogatives as co-legislator, given that the new instrument is not founded on a proposal under the ordinary legislative procedure”, he added.

The €100 million for humanitarian aid, in view of the current influx of refugees and migrants into the Union, is the first tranche from the new €700m Emergency Assistance instrument proposed by the European Commission on March 2nd. The funds could be used, inter alia, for food assistance, emergency healthcare, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, and education.

In response to recent terrorist attacks, a further €2 million are to be made available to reinforce staff at the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), established by EUROPOL on January 1st 2016, which is expected to form the central hub of the fight against terrorism in the EU.

Need for a permanent mechanism for humanitarian aid within the Union

MEPs welcome the fact that the funds to support refugees in the EU will not be withdrawn from existing humanitarian aid programmes outside the EU but instead will be redeployed from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).
They nonetheless underline that this “frontloaded” €100m needs to be replaced with fresh money later and insist “that a more sustainable legal and budgetary framework should be envisaged in order to allow for humanitarian aid within the Union to be mobilised in the future.”

SOURCE: European Parliament
PHOTO: European Union, Fred Marvaux