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Tripling Triton's budget: how fast will the EU move?

One of the European Council's recent proposals for dealing with the migration crisis in the Mediterranean was to "rapidly reinforce" the Triton border control mission, operated by EU agency Frontex. However, the speed of the decision-making process in the EU suggests that this reinforcement is not likely to be particularly rapid.

The Council claimed that "commitments already made by Member States" would "allow to reach this objective in the coming weeks." [1] But the European Commission said this week that the proposal to triple the budget of Triton mission will not be presented to the Council and Parliament in mid-May.

While the Commission aims to have the budget adopted "swiftly", a recent amendment to the EU's budget suggests it may be quite some time before Frontex receives the money.

On 20 January the Commission published a proposal for a Council Regulation that would amend the EU's budget for 2015 due to "late agreement on the MFF [Multiannual Financial Framework] 2014-2020". The MFF is the EU's overall budget.

The Regulation would bring some of the unspent money from 2014 into the budget for 2015, and covered money from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, and the Internal Security Fund, amongst others.[2]

The Council had to agree on the proposal, and the Parliament had to give its consent. The Regulation was finally agreed on 21 April, three months after its publication. [3]

The European Council suggested that tripling Triton's budget would allow an "increase in the search and rescue possibilities within the mandate of FRONTEX," which in practice may not mean much of an increase. In any case, if the proposal to triple Triton's budget follows the same route as the amending budget presented in January, the "rapid reinforcement" of the mission will not take place until mid-August. By that time, many more lives may already have been lost.


1. Special meeting of the European Council, 23 April 2015 - statement

2. COUNCIL REGULATION amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020

3. COUNCIL REGULATION (EU, Euratom) 2015/623 of 21 April 2015 amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020

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