Revised European multiannual budget includes nearly 10bn euros extra for migration
On top of the 50 billion euro financial aid package for Ukraine, European Union leaders approved a further 9.6 billion euros for migration policies during their Brussels summit. This is almost 3 billion euros less than the Commission had hoped for.
The approval of the substantial aid package for Ukraine stole all the attention at Thursday's summit. But there was another reason to consider the meeting historic. As the European Commission pointed out, it was the first time that member states had been prepared to raise the ceilings of an ongoing multiannual budget in the middle of the year. Ultimately, an extra 21 billion euros will be put on the table.
However, the leaders significantly reduced the proposals made by the Commission last summer. While the Commission had asked for almost 80 billion euros, only 64.6 billion euros remained.
The 33 billion euro loan package remained unchanged, as did the 17 billion euro grant requested for Ukraine. This leaves 4 billion euros unspent, but member states have also taken around 10 billion euros from other spending items to provide additional funds for new challenges. These include the Horizon research programme, the globalisation fund and EU4Health. The latter loses 1 billion euros, more than a quarter of its budget.
In return, an additional 9.6 billion euros will be allocated to internal and external migration policies. The Commission had asked for 12.5 billion, with slightly more for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and policies in the southern neighbouring countries, but this is still a substantial increase.
The Commission also wanted 10 billion euros for investment in strategic technologies, but leaders rejected this. They only agreed to an extra 1.5 billion euros for the European Defence Fund. Member states rejected 1.9 billion euros for administrative costs and reduced emergency aid for natural disasters, which receives 1.5 billion euros extra instead of 2.5 billion.
Covid-19 recovery plan
Finally, a cascade mechanism has been built into the multiannual budget to deal with the financing costs of the Covid-19 recovery plan, where the EU will face interest rate increases in 2020 that were not taken into account when the plan was drawn up.
By 2027, interest costs are estimated to be 15 billion euros higher than initially projected. The mechanism involves first looking at the planned budget line, then exploring possible margins in other sectoral annual budgets and, in the worst case, considering a new safety net based on additional national contributions.
© BELGA PHOTO