MEPs urge EU countries to use €1.3bn budget refund to honour refugee aid pledge

EU member states should use a €1.349 billion EU budget refund for 2015 to honour their pledges to contribute to two EU trust funds set up to tackle the refugee crisis, urge MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday. Parliament approved a Commission proposal to amend the EU’s 2016 budge in order to include a positive balance from 2015. This balance is to be refunded in the form of a reduction in member states’ contributions.

“I would like to stress that this amending budget will result in a €1.349 billion reduction in national contributions to the EU budget. I consider that it is of utmost importance that member states use the opportunity of such an unexpected refund to honour their pledges in relation to the refugee crisis and to match the EU contribution to the two dedicated trust funds. I would like to urge them to do so”, said rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT).

MEPs note “with concern” that in spring 2016, “member states have only contributed €82 million to the Africa Trust Fund and €69 million to the Madad Trust Fund on the Syrian crisis, while the Union’s contributions stand at €1.8 billion and more than €500 million respectively”, says the report.

The €1.349bn positive balance is due to the EU receiving more revenue than expected (mainly from exchange rates differences and from competition fines paid towards the end of 2015) and from minor under-implementation of the expenditure.

The report was approved by 591 votes to 68, with 44 abstentions.