Time is running out for the European Union to make the best of its migration budgets
BRUSSELS — The European Union is planning to allot greater funding to migration and integration efforts in its next budget, but the way it spends this money will need to be radically rethought, the Migration Policy Institute Europe argues in a new policy brief.
The authors of Money Wise: Improving How EU Funds Support Migration and Integration Policy Objectives suggest that "the window to influence the EU-level regulations is rapidly dwindling" because negotiations on the next EU budget could be finished by the end of this year. The budget will shape the funding landscape until 2027.
The policy brief analyzes how the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) work to support migration and integration efforts around Europe. Because these funds are relatively small compared with the amount national governments spend from their own budgets, the money must be targeted and spent smartly to make sure it has an impact.
"Many facets of migration policy are well understood, but the financial aspect is under-investigated," said co-author Hanne Beirens. "This paper really aims to kickstart a conversation by thinking through the main questions—who needs to take part in designing the funds? How can we make sure these funds give the right return on investment? The ultimate question is whether these funds might just be the wrong tools to turn the policy aims into reality."
In the brief, Beirens and co-author Aliyyah Ahad focus on three broad ways that these funding tools could be improved:
- Include a broader range of voices in the design of the funds and make sure smaller groups such as community-based organizations can benefit from the money.
- Harmonize the ways in which these funds operate with each other, and the wider family of EU policy tools, to reduce waste and hold EU countries accountable.
- Install more robust ways of monitoring the successes and failures of these funds to make sure the structural weaknesses exposed by the 2015 migration crisis are fixed.
Much of the design of these funds will already have been agreed at EU level as part of the negotiations for the next budget, but the brief argues there will still be "numerous opportunities" to influence how the budget regulations are implemented in each EU Member State.
And, said Ahad: "Improving regulations at EU level is only half the battle. The way national governments absorb the regulations into their own systems is also vital. They need technical help to make sure this process goes smoothly, doesn’t dilute the original policy objectives and doesn’t leave local organizations in the lurch."
Read the policy brief here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/eu-funds-migration-integration-policy-objectives
About the authors:
Hanne Beirens is Associate Director of MPI Europe. She specializes in EU policies related to asylum and migration, human trafficking and youth.
Aliyyah Ahad is an Associate Policy Analyst with MPI Europe. She focuses on European migration and integration policy, particularly EU partnerships with external countries, free movement and Brexit.