STRASBOURG, France – The European Commission unveiled on Tuesday its long-term budget proposal for immigration and customs, which proposes tripling the funds dedicated to managing immigration flows into the European Union between 2021-2027 and recruiting 10,000 additional coast guards.
The Commissioner for Migration, Interior and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, underscored during the proposal’s presentation in Strasbourg the importance of the issue of immigration, which, he said, affected everyone.
“The incident in the Mediterranean with the Aquarius vessel yesterday has reminded us once again that migration is not just a theoretical discussion,” Avramopoulos said, in reference to the rescue ship carrying 629 shipwrecked migrants that remained anchored between Malta and Italy while the two countries denied its entry to port.
“Migration is very real and tangible – and above all: it concerns people,” he added.
According to the EC, “bigger challenges require bigger resources,” which is why it was proposing to increase the funding for migration and border management from 13 billion euros ($15.33 billion) in 2014-20 to almost 35 billion euros in the next seven-year period.
“Whilst the situation is a lot more stable now, what the past three years have taught us is that we have to be prepared – because we cannot afford a repetition of 2015, neither politically nor financially,” said Avramopoulos. “We need structural solutions.”
In 2015, the European Union reached a deal with Turkey in which it paid the country 3 billion euros in exchange for stemming the flow of migrants, mainly refugees fleeing the brutal wars in Syria or Afghanistan, into Greece.
In March, the EC proposed diverting an additional 3 billion toward the same end.
The new plan also contemplates reinforcing the European Border and Coast Guard Agency with up to 10,000 staff by 2027, as well as increasing the agency’s funding with approximately 12 billion euros.
“We are not Fortress Europe,” Avramopoulos concluded. “We want to build a humane, but fair and strict migration and borders policy.”