Documents considered by the Committee on 14th October 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


30 EU General Budget 2015

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny
Document details(a) Draft Amending Budget No. 7 to the General Budget 2015 — Managing the refugee crisis: Immediate budgetary measures under the EU Agenda on Migration

(b) Proposed Decision on the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for immediate budgetary measures under the EU Agenda on Migration in connection with (a)

Legal base(a) Article 314 TFEU and 106a, EURATOM Treaty; co-decision; QMV

(b) Point 12 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 on budgetary discipline and on cooperation in budgetary matters; —; QMV

DepartmentHM Treasury
Document Numbers (a) (37122), 12502/15 + ADD 1, COM(15) 485;

(b) (37123), 12503/15, COM(15) 486

Summary and Committee's conclusions

30.1 Draft Amending Budget No. 7 to the General Budget 2015 is to provide additional funds to allow for the implementation of immediate measures in the remaining months of 2015, as set out in the Commission Communication Managing the refugee crisis: immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration. The Draft Amending Budget seeks an additional €331 million (£244 million) in commitment appropriations beyond the agreed budget for 2015. Of these new appropriations, €66.1 million (£49 million) would be mobilised through the Flexibility Instrument, in order to allow additional funding beyond the Multiannual Financial Framework commitment ceiling. The Draft Amending Budget does not seek additional payment appropriations as payment needs will be met by redeployment within the existing Budget.

30.2 The Government tells us that it supports the principle and objectives of this package in seeking to provide additional funds to manage the refugee crisis, noting that this reflects the Prime Minister's agreement on the need for bold, concerted action at EU level to address the situation. It also notes that the Commission has found half of the commitments necessary to fund the migration proposals in 2015 from reprioritisations, and has also identified redeployments to avoid the need for additional payment appropriations this year. It comments that this is in line with the Government's view that the Commission should look for reallocations before coming to Member States with requests for new money.

30.3 The Government tells us that the Draft Amending Budget was adopted by the Council on 8 October, whilst the matter was still under our scrutiny.

30.4 We note that the appropriations proposed in the Draft Amending Budget are in accordance with measures supported by the Government at the 23 September informal European Council and that it is satisfied that the Commission has used the scope for redeployment within the existing 2015 Budget. Accordingly we clear the Draft Amending Budget from scrutiny. We understand that the Council also adopted the complementary Decision on use of the Flexibility Instrument on 8 October and clear that document too from scrutiny.

30.5 As for the breach of the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution, whilst this is regrettable we recognise that, given the Conference Recess, it was unavoidable.

Full details of the documents: (a) Draft Amending Budget No. 7 to the General Budget 2015: Managing the refugee crisis: immediate budgetary measures under the European Agenda on Migration: (37122), 12502/15, COM(15) 485; (b) Proposal for a Decision on the Mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for immediate budgetary measures under the European Agenda on Migration: (37123), 12503/15, COM(15) 486.

Background

30.6 In May the Commission published a Communication A European Agenda on Migration,[ 175] which partially informed European Council discussion of the migration crisis on 25 and 26 June.[ 176] There was further discussion of the migration crisis at the informal European Council of 23 September when it was decided, based on the Commission Communication Managing the refugee crisis: immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration,[ 177] that the EU would:

·  respond to the urgent needs of Syrian refugees in the region by helping the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme and other agencies with at least an additional €1 billion (£738.5 million);

·  assist Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis, including through a substantial increase of the EU's Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis (the Madad Trust Fund);

·  reinforce dialogue with Turkey at all levels, in order to strengthen cooperation on stemming and managing the migratory flows;

·  assist the Western Balkan countries in handling the refugee flows, including through pre-accession instruments, as well as ensure a speedy and solid preparation of the 8 October Western Balkans route conference;

·  increase the funding of the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa through additional contributions by Member States, and ensure an optimal preparation of the 11-12 November Valletta Summit in order to achieve maximum progress;

·  tackle the situation at the EU external borders and strengthen controls at those borders, including through additional resources for Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Europol, and with personnel and equipment from Member States;

·  meet requests from front-line Member States for assistance by the institutions, the agencies and other Member States in order to ensure identification, registration and fingerprinting of migrants (hotspots) and at the same time ensure relocation and returns, at the latest by November 2015; and

·  enhance the funding of the Emergency Fund for Asylum, Integration and Migration and the Internal Security Fund (ISF)-Borders.[ 178]

The documents

30.7 Draft Amending Budget No. 7 to the General Budget 2015 (DAB No. 7/2015), document (a), is to provide additional funds to allow for the implementation of immediate measures in the remaining months of 2015, as set out in the Commission Communication Managing the refugee crisis: immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration. This entails additional appropriations for emergency assistance under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and ISF, additional posts for Frontex, the EASO and EUROPOL and further funding for humanitarian aid, including through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). The DAB seeks an additional €331 million (£244 million) in commitment appropriations beyond the agreed budget for 2015. Of these new appropriations, €66.1 million (£49 million) would be mobilised through the Flexibility Instrument,[ 179] as in document (b), in order to allow additional funding for Heading 3 beyond the Multiannual Financial Framework commitment ceiling. The DAB does not seek additional payment appropriations as payment needs will be met by redeployment within the existing Budget.

30.8 The additional appropriations proposed for 2015 are as follows:

·  increased commitment appropriations under AMIF of €80 million (£59 million) and under ISF of €20 million (£15 million) to provide emergency assistance to frontline Member States and support implementation of the 'hotspots' approach, which aims to enable swift registration and processing of migrants on arrival. The funds would be used to meet requests for emergency assistance from Member States and to ensure a coordinated approach;

·  an additional €1.3 million (£960,000) in commitment and payment appropriations to fund an additional 120 posts in the EU's key migration agencies, Frontex (60 posts), EASO (30 posts) and Europol (30 posts). This is in response to a need for increased operational and cooperation activities to disrupt trafficking and support returns (Frontex and EUROPOL) and to support processing of asylum applications (EASO). The funds would cover one month's remuneration for the new staff in 2015; and

·  an additional €300 million (£222 million) in commitment appropriations to increase the funding of the ENI, which would allow for an increase to the Madad Trust Fund to support refugees from Syria. €55.7m (£41m) in payments would be redeployed to cover the most urgent humanitarian needs of people fleeing the conflict in the region. while the remaining €200 million in commitments allocations available in 2015 would also be used for this purpose, through a transfer from the Emergency Aid Reserve.

30.9 The total required to cover these measures is €401.3 million (£296 million) in commitment and €57 million (£42 million) in payment appropriations. €70.5 million (£52 million) in commitment and all payment appropriations would be redeployed from the EU Solidarity Fund Reserve for advances and other budget lines in Heading 2 and 3. The remaining funds would be found through the €331 million (£244 million) in new commitment appropriations in DAB No. 7/2015, of which €66 million (£49 million) is to be mobilised through the Flexibility Instrument. (Separately, the Commission is requesting transfers of commitment appropriations from the Emergency Aid Reserve, totalling €200m (£148m), for humanitarian aid to displaced people fleeing the conflict in Syria.)

30.10 Most of the redeployments of the payment appropriations are drawn from, in addition to the EU Solidarity Fund Reserve for advances, a number of budget lines in Heading 2 and 3, namely the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements and the Food and Feed programme. The Commission notes that redeployments are possible due to delays or rescheduling of programmes and lower than expected requests from Member States.

The Government's view

30.11 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 5 October 2015 the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke), noting that the Prime Minister has agreed there is a need for bold, concerted action to manage the refugee crisis, in particular to stabilise the countries and regions from which the refugees are coming, says that:

·  the Government welcomes the fact that the majority of the deployment of funds before the end of this year is to address urgent humanitarian needs;

·  its view is that the Commission should always look first to reallocate funds from within existing agreed budgets to meet emerging in-year pressures, rather than coming to Member States to request additional money;

·  the funding of commitment appropriations in DAB No. 7/2015 consists of a combination of redeployment and new appropriations;

·  the Government notes that the funding of payment appropriations in DAB No. 7/2015 consists solely of redeployments;

·  the remaining margins for 2015 after accounting for DAB No. 7/2015 remain consistent with the 2015 Multiannual Financial Framework ceiling;

·  the UK's post-abatement financing share of EU expenditure is approximately 12% — the amount will depend on actual budgetary outturns; and

·  a large proportion of the additional expenditure is likely to constitute Official Development Assistance.

30.12 In his letter of 5 October 2015 the Minister tells us that:

·  in view of the urgency of the situation, the Commission proposed expediting the timetable for consideration of DAB No. 7/2015;

·  a vote on expediting the DAB was to take place at COREPER on 7 October, while final agreement on the substance was expected to be reached at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8 October;

·  the Government agreed that this matter was urgent, and therefore intended to vote in favour of expediting the decision-making process for this DAB;

·  he regretted that this expedited timetable would leave no opportunity for us to scrutinise this DAB proposal, because of the Conference Recess; and

·  he would however write to us to set out the Government's position on the DAB No. 7/2015 as soon as he was in a position to do so.

30.13 In his letter of 12 October 2015 the Minister says that the Government supports the principle and objectives of DAB No. 7/2015 in seeking to provide additional funds to manage the refugee crisis, noting that this reflects the Prime Minister's agreement on the need for bold, concerted action at EU level to address the situation.

30.14 Reporting that the DAB did indeed go to the Justice and Home Affairs Council for approval on 8 October, the Minister says that the Government voted in favour of it on a number of grounds. He continues that it will fund measures which the Government supports, explaining that:

·  the majority of DAB No. 7/2015 will boost EU contributions to the Madad Trust Fund and humanitarian aid through the UNHCR and World Food Programme, which will help address the root causes of the migration crisis;

·  after the United States, the UK is the biggest donor of aid to Syria and is the EU's biggest donor to the World Food Programme;

·  the aid elements of the DAB spending will count as ODA (Overseas Development Aid) spend;

·  most of the remainder will be used to provide emergency assistance to frontline Member States to enable the swift processing of arriving migrants and increase resources for Frontex and other EU agencies involved in migration;

·  the UK makes a separate bilateral contribution to Frontex and earlier in the year the Prime Minister committed to increase this contribution;

·  80% of this emergency funding will be used to increase funding to the AMIF which aims to promote legal migration, safe return of illegal migrants, and effective integration of non-EU nationals — objectives which the Government supports; and

·  the UK has opted into this fund and benefits from the largest national allocation in the EU.

30.15 The Minister repeats the point in his Explanatory Memorandum that the Government notes that the Commission has found half of the commitments necessary to fund these migration proposals in 2015 from reprioritisations, and has also identified redeployments to avoid the need for additional payment appropriations this year. He comments that this is in line with the Government's view that the Commission should look for reallocations before coming to Member States with requests for new money.

30.16 The Minister states that, given the urgency of the matter and the fact that we were not to meet until 14 October, it was necessary to override scrutiny in order to vote in favour of the proposals.

30.17 Finally the Minister notes that migration issues will also affect the 2016 Draft Budget and that he will be writing to us separately about the ongoing 2016 budget negotiations.

Previous Committee Reports

None.


175   (36877), 8961/15: see Second Report HC 342-ii (2015-16), chapter 1 (21 July 2015). Back

176   See http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-22-2015-INIT/en/pdf. Back

177   (37119), 12313/15 + ADDs 1-7: see chapter Y of this chapter. Back

178   See http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/09/23-statement-informal-meeting/. Back

179   The Flexibility Instrument can provide funding in a given financial year for clearly identified expenses which could not be covered by one or more budget headings without exceeding their Multiannual Financial Framework ceilings. Back


 
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Prepared 14 October 2015