EU: Billions of euros for internal security and migration policy

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22 EU Member States' plans for internal security and migration were approved by the European Commission yesterday, opening the door to billions of euros in funding from the EU's current seven year budget, which runs from 2014 until 2020 (European Commission, Investing in an open and secure Europe). The new budgets follow the EU's previous internal security and migration budgets, which ran from 2007 until 2013 and paid for transnational databases and police operations, surveillance equipment, and detention centres, amongst other things.

Official approval

The majority of the plans - known as "national programmes" in the official terminology - deal with the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). This has a seven-year budget of €3.137 billion and its aim is to:

"contribute to the efficient management of migration flows and to the implementation, strengthening and development of the common policy on asylum, subsidiary protection and temporary protection and the common immigration policy..." (Article 3, Regulation No 516/2014 establishing the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund)

The other plans approved by the European Commission deal with the Internal Security Fund, which has two parts - one on "police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management" (ISF-Police), and the other on "external borders and visa"

ISF-Police has a budget of just over €1 billion and has the "general objective" of "ensuring a high level of security in the Union." (Article 3, ISF-Police Regulation)

ISF-Borders has a budget of €2.76 billion and is supposed to ensure "a high level of security in the Union while facilitating legitimate travel, through a uniform and high level of control of the external borders and the effective processing of Schengen visas..." (Article 3, ISF-Borders Regulation)

The Regulations contain extensive details on the type of projects and activities that the budgets are supposed to pay for.

Who gets what?

The money from both the AMIF and the ISF budgets is split between the Commission and the Member States. For their national programmes, Member States will receive a total of €2.392 billion from the AMIF, €1.404 billion from the ISF-Borders, and €662 million from the ISF-Police.

Although the approved national programmes have not yet been made public, some drafts are available: Bulgaria's for the AMIF, Hungary's for the ISF, and Slovenia's for the ISF. Bugaria's AMIF programme was approved by the Commission yesterday, although it is unknown what changes have been made to the draft.

The 22 "national programmes" that were approved yesterday are geared towards the implementation of laws, policies, projects and activities approved at EU level (that is, by the Council, the Commission, and sometimes the Parliament).

The programmes are drawn up through a process that begins with a "policy dialogue... at the level of senior officials," which serves as "a guide for the preparation and approval of the national programmes." The involvement of the Parliament in this process is limited: "After the conclusion of the policy dialogues, the Commission shall inform the European Parliament of the overall outcome." (Article 13, Regulation No 514/2014 laying down general provisions for the AMIF and ISF-Police funds)

The Commission will get €385 million from the AMIF, €264 million from the ISF-Borders and €342 million from the ISF-Police. This will be split between Union actions (such as Schengen evaluation, the border surveillance system Eurosur, counter-terrorism work and law enforcement information exchange) and emergency assistance (as was recently provided to Italy).

There is also €360 million for the Union Resettlement Programme and €1.092 billion for IT systems under the ISF-Borders fund. This includes nearly €800 million for the EU's 'Smart Borders' project, despite the fact that it so far has no legislative basis.

More detailed information on Union actions is available in the annual work programmes: AMIF, ISF-Borders, ISF-Police.

EU funding can cover most, but not all, of the costs of national projects. In general it "shall not exceed 75% of the total eligible expenditure of a project", but it "may be increased to 90% under specific actions or strategic priorities as defined in the Specific Regulations". (Article 16, Regulation No 514/2014 laying down general provisions for the AMIF and ISF-Police funds)

"Specific actions" include the "establishment and development in the Union of transit and processing centres for refugees" (AMIF) and "purchasing means of transport and operating equipment that are considered necessary for the deployment during joint operations by the Frontex Agency" (ISF-Borders) (European Commission, 'Specific Actions').

New funds, old themes

The AMIF replaces three funds - the European Return Fund, the European Refugee Fund and the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals - which were part of a programme called Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows (SOLID).

Also part of SOLID was the External Borders Fund, now replaced by ISF-Borders. ISF-Police, meanwhile, replaces two funds - Prevention of and Fight Against Crime, and Terrorism and other Security-related Risks - which were part of a programme called Security and Safeguarding Liberties.

Together, AMIF and ISF are worth €6.9 billion over seven years - an increase of 47% compared to the €4.691 billion that the SOLID and Security and Safeguarding Liberties programmes were worth.

So far there has been no formal evaluation on what has been achieved with the 2007-13 budgets overall. However, the Commission has published brief summaries of "mid-term" evaluations of the External Borders Fund and the Security and Safeguarding Liberties programme, covering the years 2007-10.

The evaluation of the Security and Safeguarding Liberties programme found that:

"The most common types of results achieved are the development and adoption of new tools and methodologies, such as databases, and the spreading of best practices, but many projects also contributed to furthering the knowledge of specific issues and/or solutions." (Communication on the mid-term evaluation of the Framework Programme "Security and Safeguarding Liberties" (2007-2013), emphasis in original)

The evaluation of the External Borders Fund (EBF) is far more detailed. It found that from 2007-10 the EBF had paid for, amongst other things:

  • the acquisition of 3,153 vehicles (boats, helicopters, motorbikes, and more);
  • the acquisition or upgrading of 545 border surveillance systems covering 8,279 kilometres of the EU's external borders;
  • the acquisition of 22,347 items of "operating equipment for border surveillance" (for example thermal imaging systems, video surveillance equipment, night vision goggles, "camouflage and protection equipment") and 212,881 items of "operating equipment for border checks" (such as document verification equipment and fibre-optic networks);
  • the addition of 710 places to detention facilities;
  • the upgrade of consulates ("210 visa sections newly built or renovated, 257 pieces of equipment purchased to upgrade security");
  • the development of national systems connected to the EU's Visa Information System, Schengen Information System II and Eurosur; and
  • the training of 32,594 staff in EU border and visa legislation.

    The report notes that Spain bought more surveillance equipment than any other Member State, acquiring 386 items to expand its Sistema Integrado de Vigilancia Exterior (‘Integrated Exterior Surveillance System’, SIVE): “This enabled Spain to intercept 5,239 irregular migrants and improve the security of its maritime border, reducing irregular migration to the Canary Islands by 17.5%.” (Report from the Commission on the ex-post evaluation of the External Borders Fund for the period 2007-10)

    Further reading

  • 'EU funding for network developing surveillance, intelligence-gathering and remote vehicle stopping tools', Statewatch News Online, January 2015
  • 'Eurosur extended: all participating states now connected to border surveillance system', Statewatch News Online, December 2014
  • 'Travel surveillance: PNR by the back door', Statewatch News Online, October 2014
  • 'Police forces get ready for multi-billion euro policing and security funds', Statewatch News Online, June 2014
  • 'Uncertain future for EU-funded police project aimed at enhancing covert surveillance techniques', Statewatch News Online, July 2013

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