Documents considered by the Committee on 29 November 2017 Contents

35Managing the refugee crisis: a further update

Committee’s assessment

Legally and politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

Commission Communication: Managing the refugee crisis—State of Play of the Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration

Legal base


Home Office

Document Number

(37190), 13121/15 + ADDs 1–9, COM(15) 510

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

35.1This Commission Communication was published at the height of the migration and refugee crisis in October 2015. It invited EU leaders to “make a clear and unambiguous commitment to starting a new phase in the EU’s response to the refugee crisis: one of swift and determined implementation” and reflected a broader concern that implementation was lagging far behind the political commitments made to address the crisis.473 The Communication remains under scrutiny pending further information from the Government on:

35.2The Immigration Minister (Brandon Lewis) apologises for the delay of more than a year in providing the information requested by our predecessors which he attributes to “an administrative oversight”. He refers us to separate correspondence in which he confirms that transfers of asylum seekers to Greece remain suspended and that a similar suspension applies on a temporary basis in relation to Hungary.474 The UK has made a direct contribution of €3 million (£2.3 million)475 to the EU Trust Fund for Syria (out of a total of £2.46 billion since 2012 to address the Syria crisis) and also contributes to the Fund through the EU budget. Work within Government to determine the extent of any refund due to the UK as a result of its non-participation in EU relocation measures has been subsumed within wider EU budget and funding issues which form part of the UK’s exit negotiations with the EU.

35.3Our predecessors raised the issue of payments being made by the UK to fund EU measures on the relocation of asylum seekers in which the UK does not participate more than two years ago. It seems that the Government has made no progress in exploring administrative means for obtaining reimbursement. We do not expect the Government to make any headway before the UK leaves the EU, given the far larger sums involved in the UK’s exit negotiations. We therefore clear the Communication from scrutiny.

Full details of the documents

Commission Communication: Managing the refugee crisis—State of Play of the Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration: (37190), 13121/15 + ADDs 1–9, COM(15) 510.


35.4The Reports listed at the end of this chapter provide a detailed overview of the Commission Communication, the Government’s position and the questions raised by our predecessors.

The Minister’s letter of 6 September 2017

35.5The EU Trust Fund for Syria is intended to enable donors to pool their financial contributions and improve coordination in responding to a crisis on a regional scale.476 Our predecessors noted that, whilst the Government welcomed the creation of the Fund, it had not said whether it intended to channel future UK funding for Syria and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees through the Fund in order to scale up the total available funding. The Minister responds:

“I am pleased to inform you that the UK contributed €3 million (£2,310,450) to the EU Trust Fund for Syria in May 2016. In addition to our €3 million direct contribution to the EU Trust Fund for Syria, the UK has an underlying contribution through our approximate 15% share of the EU budget instruments contributing to this Fund.

“In addition to UK funding channelled through the EU Trust Fund for Syria, the UK has committed a total of £2.46 billion to the Syria crisis since 2012, which is helping to meet the needs of vulnerable people in Syria and of refugees in the region. Between 2012 and 2016 in Syria and the region, UK support helped to distribute almost 25 million individual monthly food rations that feed a person for a month, provided over 7 million vaccinations, and provided almost 8 million medical consultations.”

35.6Turning to EU relocation measures, the Government told our predecessors in earlier correspondence that these are funded by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (“AMIF”) in which the UK does take part but that the UK cannot seek reimbursement of its contribution to AMIF-funded relocation measures in which the UK does not participate as the UK “opted into the whole of the AMIF” and is under an obligation to pay its dues. The Government added that the UK would nevertheless explore “administrative” means of obtaining reimbursement.477

35.7Our predecessors explained that there appeared to be two conflicting obligations, the first stemming from the UK’s decision to opt into AMIF, the second from the Government’s subsequent decision not to participate in EU relocation measures which depend (for their implementation) on the prior EU funding instrument. This is because Article 3 of the UK’s Title V (opt-in) Protocol makes clear that the UK is bound by a measure once it has decided to opt in (the AMIF) but Articles 2 and 5 of the same Protocol are equally clear that EU measures which the UK has chosen not to opt in to (the two relocation Decisions adopted in September 2015) shall not in any way “affect the competences, rights and obligations” of the UK and the UK “shall bear no financial consequences” of such measures other than “administrative costs entailed for the institutions, unless all members of the Council, acting unanimously after consulting the European Parliament, decide otherwise”. They invited the Minister to address this apparent contradiction in the wording of the Protocol and to provide an update on any administrative means pursued by the Government to secure a refund covering the relocation component of the AMIF.

35.8The Minister responds:

“The Home Office is working closely with Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Department for Exiting the EU given that EU budget and EU funding issues now form part of the negotiation of the UK’s exit from the EU.”

Previous Committee Reports

Third Report HC 71–ii (2016–17), chapter 12 (25 May 2016), Fifteenth Report; HC 342–xiv (2015–16), chapter 8 (16 December 2015); and Ninth Report HC 342–ix (2015–16), chapter 8 (18 November 2015).

473 See p.2 of the Communication.

474 See chapter 31 (38382) of the ESC’s Second Report of 2017–19 The resumption of transfers of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin rules.

475 €1 = £0.91973 or £1 = €1.08728 as at 1 September 2017.

476 For more details on EU Trust Funds, see the briefing produced for the European Parliament.

477 See the letter of 11 December 2015 from the then Immigration Minister (James Brokenshire) to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee.

1 December 2017