The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) supports the creation of the funds for asylum and migration as well as for border and visa management. In the opinion adopted at its October plenary session and drawn up by Giuseppe Iuliano, the Committee agrees with the Commission decision to increase the budget for both funds, but points out that it is inappropriate to remove the word 'integration' from the title of the migration fund: regular channels for access to the EU should also be specified.
The European Commission, in the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, has proposed to increase the budget for the management of migration and borders. The Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF) will seek to improve the comprehensive management of migration, integration and return. It will be transformed and reinforced with a financial allocation of EUR 10.415 billion. The newly created Integrated Border Management Fund will financially support border and visa management and be provided with EUR 9.318 billion.
The EESC is in favour of the two new funds as a way to help the European migration and asylum policy to move forward and approves the significant increase in their budget proposed by the Commission.
- Integration and equal treatment
However, "The removal of the word 'integration' from the title of the AMF is quite worrying," said Mr Iuliano.
It could be seen as reflecting diminishing concern for this aspect. Let's not forget that equal treatment and anti-discrimination policies represent the pillars of European policies, including those concerning the integration of third-country nationals, he continued.
The word 'integration' needs to be put back into the title, since inclusion is a challenge for the Member States. The previous and current fund is indeed entitled the 'Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)'. It was set up for the period 2014-20 with a total budget of EUR 3.137 billion.
- Right of asylum and regular channels for access to the EU
The Commission proposal focuses specifically on irregular arrivals at border control points and does not mention any standard channels for access to the European Union. Likewise, there is no specific reference to the protection of fundamental rights at border installations. The Committee upholds the right of asylum and calls for a common migration policy with instruments that facilitate regular and ordered migration. We need progress and innovation in the integrated European migration system. Reform of the Dublin system is essential.
- Flexibility, simplification and evaluation
Flexible mechanisms to manage both funds are also vital, in order to better reflect the various requirements of the Member States when taking joint action and to implement corrections if needed. It is also necessary to simplify procedures and carry out mid-term evaluations, for example, by combining impact assessments and results assessments, especially concerning actions that may be implemented at different administrative levels in each Member State. In this respect the Committee invites the Commission to go further and ensure increased transparency, enhanced accountability and the achievement of objectives concerning the funds transferred to the Member States.