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Last night, in the Parliament's committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, the report on the establishment of an Asylum and Migration Fund was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the committee members. Under the proposal drafted by the European Commission, this fund – which will run from the period 2014 to 2020 – should have a budget of €3.8 billion to be distributed over its seven-year lifetime.
 
Sylvie Guillaume, S&D Group vice-president and European Parliament rapporteur for the report stated:
 
"A major step forward was taken yesterday. Shortly before the beginning of negotiations with the Council, the civil liberties committee has sent a powerful and unified message to the member states.
 
"First and foremost, a strong message was sent on solidarity – EU policies must be governed by the solidarity principle and fair sharing of responsibility between the member states, including the financial implications. The civil liberties committee has spoken with a single voice and sent an unambiguous call for solidarity which must go beyond words and take the form of actions," continued Sylvie Guillaume.

"The committee welcomed the European Commission's efforts to simplify this new financial instrument, but also sought to ensure that the inbuilt flexibility would not come at the expense of a fair and transparent distribution of the funds, so that the priority areas of 'asylum' and 'migration' do not lose out to 'return' policies at an EU level."
 
Sylvie Guillaume was also pleased to see that proposals to involve civil society in the development, implementation and monitoring of the national programmes were adopted:
 
"I am delighted that the series of amendments which I proposed on the involvement of civil society were adopted. In the area of asylum and migration it is crucial that civil society organisations be fully involved in the different stages of financial planning. Beyond their experience and expertise, they act as a safeguard ensuring a fair and well-targeted distribution of the funds available."
 
In addition, the committee on civil liberties also endorsed, with a large majority, an increasingly results-oriented approach. Sylvie Guillaume explained:
 
"To improve the tools available to the Commission, it is essential to evaluate the various objectives of the fund in both a quantitative and qualitative way."
 
Furthermore, actions in third countries which may be financed under the new fund will be strictly screened for their consistency with the EU's external action and development policies to ensure a coherent EU policy vis-à-vis third countries.
 
As a result of the vote last night, preliminary steps will soon be taken to enter into negotiations with the Council so that a final text can be agreed by the two institutions. That agreed text will then become EU law and allow for the formal establishment of the fund. Negotiations are expected to begin under the Irish Presidency of the Council in early 2013. 

 
Paolo Alberti
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