Migration: New EU financial assistance to address the situation on the Canary Islands

Today, the Commission announced new funding of €43.2 million to Spain to address the needs on the Canary Islands arising from high numbers of people arriving irregularly – some 20,000 people this year. The funding will go towards increasing temporary shelter capacity and improving reception conditions, including access to health assistance, food and sanitation.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “The EU is committed to help coastal states manage migration effectively. Today’s funding will ensure that new arrivals have basic rights to food, medicine and shelter until they are referred to a reception facility for asylum seekers or channelled into their country of origin.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “I saw first-hand how challenging the situation on the Canary Islands has become. I welcome the quick moves by Spanish authorities to ensure dignified reception and effective procedures for migrants and refugees, and today we are providing the requested financial support. We are also working with partner countries, such as Morocco and Mauritania, on comprehensive migration partnerships including legal pathways to the EU, fight against migrant smuggling and effective returns for those with no right to stay in the EU.”

Financial support for the Canary Islands

Today’s grant is part of an ongoing financial assistance project to strengthen the capacity of the Spanish authorities to manage migration. The project supports the authorities’ work along the Southern coast of Spain, the Canary Islands and in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. First launched in July 2019, the total EU contribution to the project now amounts to €49.6 million.

Today’s budget top-up of €43.2 million will go towards:

  • Increasing temporary shelter capacity for an additional 7,000 people – increasing the overall reception capacity to assist up to 8,200 people. Temporary facilities will be built in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Gran Canaria), San Cristábal de la Laguna (Tenerife), and Puerto del Rosario (Fuerteventura).
  • Reception conditions contribution for an additional 15,000 persons including first aid, urgent medical care, shelter, food, clothing, hygiene kits; detecting potential victims of human trafficking, and identifying persons likely in need of international protection. In total, EU funding will be available for up to 65,000 people in 2021.
  • Reinforcing the immediate response teams of the Spanish Red Cross. Logistics centres and port facilities are being further equipped and upgraded.


This year, the Canary Islands registered almost 20,000 irregular arrivals so far. This route is the most dangerous migratory route in the world. In November, Commissioner Johansson travelled to the Canary Islands with Spanish Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska to discuss the situation and migration management cooperation.

To prevent a humanitarian emergency, the Commission, at Spain’s request, mobilised operational and financial support. Frontex deployed a first team of experts in early November to assist with registration, debriefing, and identification of people arriving.

Today’s funding represents the EU contribution to the emergency plan announced by the Spanish Government on 20 November 2020. Overall, the European Commission has made available over €846 million of funding support to Spain in the period 2014-2020 to help manage migration and external borders and ensure security, with emergency assistance amounting to €96.7 million.

For More Information

Factsheet: Financial assistance to Spain