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Matching priorities and resources in the EU budget: Climate action, migration and borders

Written by Alessandro D’Alfonso,

© luzitanija / Adobe Stock
© luzitanija / Adobe Stock

Over the past two decades, the European Union (EU) has been entrusted with a growing number of objectives and responsibilities. However, ensuring financing of related activities through the EU budget has often proven problematic, as this has long been capped at around 1 % of the Union’s gross national income (GNI). During the preparation of the post-2020 EU multiannual financial framework (MFF), climate action, migration and border management were identified among the emerging priorities that required increased joint action and funding. The agreement on EU finances for 2021 to 2027 provides for a significant relative increase in the financial resources devoted to these policy areas. In absolute figures, the reinforcements are stronger for climate action than for migration and borders.

Underpinned by the European Green Deal strategy, climate action will receive the bulk of its resources through the incorporation of climate considerations and objectives across all relevant EU funding instruments (climate mainstreaming). Next Generation EU (NGEU), the temporary instrument to aid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, will play a major role in the boost to climate-relevant resources. In total, these could amount to some €550 billion (in 2018 prices, corresponding to 30 % of total MFF and NGEU resources). For the first time, migration and border management have a dedicated heading, accounting for 2.1 % of MFF resources. Among other activities, additional allocations will contribute to the agreed reinforcement of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

Opinion surveys show that respondents see climate change and migration among the main global challenges for the EU, but there are gaps between perceptions and expectations of the role of the EU budget in these two domains. The European Parliament, which is a strong advocate of a robust EU budget commensurate with the Union’s responsibilities, managed to secure additional resources for instruments relevant to both groups of policies, as well as the enhancement of the climate mainstreaming methodology. The Parliament plays a key role in shaping and scrutinising how the funding allocated to the policy areas is implemented. Other measures to reinforce the EU budget’s capacity to deliver in the areas of climate action, migration and borders seek to improve synergies between budgetary instruments.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Matching priorities and resources in the EU budget: Climate action, migration and borders‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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