Containment-funding: The EU’s external migration funding instruments

by L.J. Migration Control Editorial Team

Following the adoption of the 2020-2025 EU budget, the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), a leaked Commission non-paper grants an overview into the distribution of funds on the external migration control.

The latest EU budget has cemented and institutionalized some of the ad hoc funding measures and trends adopted following the so-called EU’s migration ‘crisis.’ The newly launched “Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument” (NDICI), also called Global Europe, has received strong criticism. A central critique towards the instruments has been that it has institutionalized the diversion of development aid for EU migration control objectives. Further, commentators have highlighted that the use of internal security funding, such as the Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund (AMIF), the Border Management and Visa Instrument (BMVI), and the Internal Security Fund (ISF) is blurring incompatible foreign and domestic policy objectives. Based on the leaked document, this article gives a concise overview of what is know about the programming process of the external migration funding.

Externalisation: The funding instruments

The Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI-Global Europe) is the new and central tool for the EU to reach its migration objectives. It was adopted with Regulation (EU) 2021/947. According to the leaked document, “the NDICI-Global Europe’s strong focus on supporting and fostering dialogue with partner countries also means that defining migration even more clearly as a bilateral priority, will provide new opportunities for political exchanges on migration challenges and joint management of migration. More consistent support to partner countries to manage migration effectively will help maximise synergies and apply the necessary leverage.” Ten percent of all spendings under the NDICI-Global Europe instrument are dedicated to supporting management and governance of migration and forced displacement.

Other relevant instruments are the Team Europe Initiatives (TEI), which have been regarded as a continuation of the European Trust Fund for Africa. Under the TEI, Member States will bring together their funding for joint migration programming in non-EU countries to give weight and leverage to the EU’s strategic interests. The first programmes under the Team Europe Initiatives have been agreed upon and can publicly be accessed here.

Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA III): The IPA III will provide migration related funding to countries in the Western Balkans. Programming focuses on “protection for migrants, capacity-building for border and migration controls, more effective and sustainable migration management systems, support to returns, fighting migrant smuggling and EU-compliant border security“ with a total budget of €132 million.

Additional funding instruments are the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), Border Management and Visa Instrument (BMVI), and the Internal Security Fund (ISF), which hold a funding volume of over 18.2 billion. While primarily directed towards projects inside the Union, one third of funding under these funds can be directed towards external funding, if they “serve the interests of the Union’s internal policies; contribute to the specific objectives of the relevant fund/instrument; ensure consistency and complementarity at EU level; not be development-oriented; and be consistent with the EU strategic programming for the third country or region in question.” This type of funding will the available to “areas such as readmission, resettlement, legal migration and joint operations against migrant smuggling.“

NDICI-Global Europe: Implementing the ten percent target and flexibility

One of the central questions evolving around the NDICI-Global Europe instrument has been how the ten percent will be tracked.

According to the leaked document a marker system has been adopted according to which “only actions exclusively focussed on the management and governance of migration and forced displacement, or directly targeting their root causes, will be counted as contributing to the migration spending target at 100% of their value. Measures for which migration or forced displacement represent only a part of their scope will be counted at 40%, provided this topic represents a significant objective. Any actions in which migration is only marginal, will not be counted towards the migration spending target.” Further, the ten percent target applies to the funding instrument, with some regions exceeding the intended marker.

Further, the NDICI-Global Europe instrument foresees a flexible approach. This is to be implemented by introducing two programming periods, one for the time frame of 2021-2024 and one for 2025-2027. The latter will be decided through a mid-term reviews “taking into account the needs and performance of the partner countries, as well as developments in their relations with the Union and on the ground (…)” Further, funds for regional programmes will also be used as leverage: “funds will be kept available in relevant regional programmes throughout the entire period to allow the EU to support improved cooperation when demonstrated by partners.” Additionally, the “emerging challenges and priorities cushion” which amounts to €9.5 billion can also be mobilized for the EU’s migration priorities.

Migration related funding priorities under NDICI

The leaked document gives insight into migration related funding priorities under NDICI. In countries where funding is not possible due to political or other reasons, financing can still occur through “special measures”. Special measures will be applied for example to countries “such as Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Myanmar, and Yemen.” Funding to regions that are of key importance of EU migration funding will be summarized based on region below.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Migration continuous to be a key issue in programming for Sub-Saharan Africa. Actions on migration have been proposed to 26 African countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Country programmes for Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan are on hold, pending political developments). Further, in some countries, where migration is a key interest of the EU, the ten percent target may be exceeded. This includes for example Nigeria and Niger and will de facto further divert development funding for migration control interests in countries where it would be much needed. Additionally to country actions, a €1.6 billion Regional Migration Support Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa has been proposed.
  • Asia: In Asia, migration is a prominent priority area for funding in some countries. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji and Small Island Developing States, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Uzbekistan, Vietnam have specific funding programmes for migration. Funding programmes for Afghanistan, Myanmar and Yemen are currently on hold. Probably with the aim to impairing the arrival of people in need of protection from Afghanistan, there will be a strong focus on hosting and integrating refugees in the programming for Iran and Iraq, and special measures are planned for Yemen and Afghanistan. Programming on ‘migration management’ – or else, migration control will be central to Pakistan, Iraq, and Bangladesh. We have considered the implications for Pakistan in more depth here.

  • North Africa: Migration is a key priority for programming under the NDICI for North Africa “given its proximity to the EU, and the migration patterns of recent years.” Migration related funding for North Africa is exceeding the volume of the previous funding period. The central programme on migration financed by NDOCO will be a Multi-Country Programme” (MIP) with a budget of €373 million, essentially ensuring that projects launched with the European Trust Fund for Africa, will be maintained, or extended. The MIP will cover actions such as “border management, search and rescue and combatting migrant smuggling in Libya and Tunisia, protection and resilience in Libya and Egypt, legal migration and migration-related budget support to Morocco.” Additionally, country programming is being rolled out with Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and “special measures” for Libya.

  • Jordan, Lebanon and Syria: ”The strategic support package of €5.7 billion for refugees and host communities in Turkey, will be taken forward, and the specific NDICI-Global Europe contribution to this will be counted under the indicative 10% target.”
  • Eastern neighbourhood: Funding priorities for the “eastern neighborhood” include “integrated border management, labour and student mobility, and the implementation of readmission and visa facilitation agreements”.

The whole document can be accessed here. Thematic and Regional Multi-Annual Programs Indicative and National Indicative programmes have been published publicly.


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