The stakes are high for the 2023 EU Budget- will the EU deliver on its commitments?
After more than two years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine has aggravated an already fragile socio-economic environment, increasing food, energy and commodity prices and exacerbating inflationary pressures globally, with devastating social and humanitarian impacts. The 2023 EU budget should consider these overlapping crises through a principled and people-centred approach aiming to boost resilience, strengthen social cohesion, and reach the most vulnerable groups.
We welcome the opinion the European Parliament adopted on 19 October which represents the basis of negotiation with the Council (who approved its position on 13 July). This position introduced some amendments to further support and expand the financing of EU external action, both for humanitarian aid and development, a timely move amid the multiple current crises and their long-term impacts. Regretfully, the financial support for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the frame of the Global Europe instrument will diminish by around EUR 10 million. CSOs are key for developing inclusive and resilient societies and the noticeably shrinking space for civil society, including through reduced financial support, is alarming.
While we welcome the additional amount proposed by the Commission in its amending letter published on 5 October, which increases humanitarian aid funding by EUR 150 million, this is not enough to respond to the unprecedented, unmet humanitarian needs. More needs to be done to address the crisis in Ukraine, the food and energy crisis, the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the consequences of Climate Change. We also recommend the EU to step up its support for localisation by channelling more resources directly to local responders.
The proposed additional EUR 100 million for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in 2023 to support Member States in responding to the needs of people fleeing Ukraine is appreciated. It is important that the additional funding is directed towards both emergency assistance and longer-term investments that ensure dignified reception conditions, as well as high-quality and comprehensive services for all people arriving in the EU and their receiving communities, as well as all displaced people, regardless of their country of origin. These investments should be conducted in close cooperation with CSOs, including for transnational cooperation through Union actions.
In relation to the budget for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the European Parliament called to conduct an in-depth analysis into the inability of the Agency to ensure fundamental rights compliance. In doing so, the Parliament sent a much-needed signal by supporting the Council’s proposed cut of EUR 50 million for Frontex in 2023. We strongly recommend that future allocations to the Agency’s budget are based on the condition of expansive efforts from Frontex’ side in complying with its fundamental rights obligations.
Based on our work within EU Member States, we recognise the importance of maintaining financial support for the European Social Fund+ and Erasmus+ programmes, which continue to play an essential role in EU citizen’s everyday lives, particular in the areas of addressing poverty. The response to the crisis in Ukraine and the focus on COVID-19 response and recovery should not affect or divert EU funding allocated to other priorities such as social programmes addressing unemployment, growing poverty and social exclusion. We regret that the EU4HEALTH programme has been cut by EUR 70 million which will undoubtedly undermine EU and Member States’ capacities to respond to health threats and address mental health tools in a comprehensive way as announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her State of the Union speech.
The Parliament position on the 2023 EU Draft Budget has generally improved the Commission’s proposal regarding the work areas of the Red Cross. We will closely watch the Council of the EU and the Parliament in the conciliation process to make sure that the resulting agreement will not penalise important sectors such as sustainable and inclusive recovery and resilience both within and outside the EU, and on the contrary will continue to support the work of frontline actors such as National Red Cross Societies.
We welcome the discussions by the Commission and the Parliament to revise the 2021-2027 Multi-Financial Framework (MFF), as it was adopted in 2020 and does not yet take into account responding to the number of crises that arose in the years since then.
We will continue to follow these discussions and provide recommendations on key issues of concern to ensure the EU Budgets, both annual and long-term, reflect the increasing needs of vulnerable communities and guarantee quality, predictability and transparency of funding.
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