Brussels – The European Union’s 2017 budget should include 5.8 billion dollars in migration-related expenditure, the bloc’s executive said on Thursday.
The EU said that it has proposed a spending plan unaffected by Britain’s referendum decision to leave its bloc.
The 28-country bloc has been struggling to bring migration under control after more than 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, with many fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East.
“2017 budget should include 3 billion euros for actions in the EU such as bolstering the bloc’s border, coast guard; improve border management and reforming asylum rules.
“A further 2.2 billion euros should be spent outside the bloc to address root migration cause.
“This includes 750 million euros for refugees in Turkey and funding for Lebanon and Jordan,’’ the European Commission proposed.
The three countries have taken in the bulk of people fleeing the war in Syria.
An overall 74.6 billion euros, 6.9 per cent more than this year – should be earmarked for programmes aimed at boosting economic growth, job creation and investment in the EU.
“It also proposed 42.9 billion euros to support European farmers,’’ the commission said.
Next year’s budget should amount to an overall 134.9 billion euros, 6.2 per cent below the 2016 total,’’ EU Budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva told members of the European Parliament.
EU governments and lawmakers have repeatedly sparred over the bloc’s budgets, with member states typically seeking to limit expenditures while the legislature advocates more spending.
The budget takes no account of Britain’s referendum on June 23, in which voters opted to leave the EU.
The country is expected to remain a member, with full benefits and financial commitments, for at least two more years – the period required for exit negotiations following a formal notification.
“In terms of our work on the budget we do not have an immediate impact from the referendum,” Georgieva said.
She added that “more than ever, we need to use our budget as a buffer against crises.
The governments and the European Parliament will now have to spell out their positions on the 2016 budget, and then work on finding a compromise.
EU lawmaker Jens Geier, who will oversee the budget negotiations on behalf of the bloc’s legislature, welcomed that the commission had used “all means available to tackle the refugee crisis.
However, he said that “more money will be needed” to fight root causes of migration in the developing world. (dpa/NAN)