Sofia, August 11, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
The European Commission has granted Bulgaria nearly 73 million euro for the security of the country’s borders and strengthening of policing, from the EU’s Internal Security Fund (ISF).
The funds will be disbursed in stages over five years. The money is the result of the European Commission having approved Bulgaria’s national programme under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the ISF.
The EC said that so far this month it had approved 23 multiannual national programmes under the ASIF and the ISF. According to what has been approved so far, the EC will be providing about 2.4 billion euro by 2020 to address the issue of migration in the EU, mainly to the “frontline” countries.
Italy will receive the bulk of the aid, about 560 million euro, and Greece 473 million euro.
Money will now be able to flow to frontline member states such as Greece and Italy, and to other EU member states also dealing with high migratory flows, the EC said on August 10.
The Commission has worked intensively with EU countries to ensure that EU funds are released urgently. Twenty-two national programmes were already approved in March, and an additional 13 programmes will be approved later this year.
European Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Member states nowadays face unprecedented challenges in the fields of migration and security and the Commission is taking action in a spirit of solidarity.
“Through the European Agendas on Migration and Security, the Commission is taking bold steps to improve migration management, foster cooperation and make Europe safer from organised crime and terrorism for our citizens. The national programmes approved by the Commission provide significant financial assistance to the member states to address these challenges. We are determined to continue to put solidarity into practice.”
The AMIF funding supports national efforts to improve reception capacities, ensure that asylum procedures are in line with Union standards, integrate migrants at local and regional levels and increase the effectiveness of return programmes.
Funding from ISF complements national efforts to improve EU countries’ border management and surveillance (in particular through the use of modern technologies).
ISF funding is also used for cross-border law enforcement co-operation and strengthens member states’ capacity to effectively manage security-related risks such as terrorism and violent radicalisation, drug trafficking, cybercrime, trafficking in human beings, and other forms of organised crime.
In addition to the basic allocation, most national programmes are complemented by additional amounts made available for the implementation of specific transnational actions. These can include joint return and reintegration projects under the AMIF or the setting up of consular co-operation under the ISF.
Additional funding under the ISF will also be invested in the purchase of large-scale equipment that will be put at the disposal of Frontex. This resource will be available for joint operations whenever needed. Additionally, almost 37 million euro will be channelled through the AMIF programmes to support the Union Resettlement Programme in the period 2014-2015.
The Commission is working towards the swift approval of the remaining national programmes. With a total budget of almost seven billion euro for AMIF and ISF for the period 2014-20, these funds are the principal EU financial instruments for investing in an open and secure Europe, according to the EC.