New funding instrument to make EU external action more flexible

MEPs propose to increase the money for human rights campaigners, NGOs, local authorities

Photo: EP AFET chair David McAllister explained that almost 1,000 amendments to the file were tabled.

In the next programme period 2021-2017, the funding manner for the EU's external action will be simplified by removing artificial barriers between instruments using a single new regulation. During the week, two committees of the European Parliament - the Foreign Affairs and Development agreed their joint position on the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).

Before opening the vote, AFET chair David McAllister (EPP, DE) explained that almost 1,000 amendments were tabled in addition to 380 amendments prepared by the four co-rapporteurs and six opinions from other committees. This is the largest file ever to be handled by any of the European Parliament's external affairs committees, he said, referring to people that have been working in the parliament for many years.

Once adopted by both Parliament and Council, NDICI will streamline a number of instruments of EU external action funds within one broad instrument, with aggregate budget for the next seven years of €93.154bn in current prices. This represents an augmentation of nearly €4bn compared to the money that the Commission suggested. This will be the EU's main tool to foster cooperation with non-EU countries in the neighbourhood and elsewhere and to implement its pledges for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. MEPs insisted that 45% of NDICI funds should support climate and environmental aims.

The new NDICI will meet the common expectations of all partners involved in development and international cooperation, making the implementation of external action more coherent and flexible, commented MEP from Luxembourg Frank Engel, EPP Group spokesman for development policy and co-rapporteur on the file.

Cristian Dan Preda, MEP from Romania and EPP Group spokesman for foreign affairs, also co-rapporteur, accented that the report proposes a coherent framework for the governance of the instrument that will ensure that Parliament has a say on these issues, in particular regarding setting the priorities for Europe's neighbourhood, “which has special political significance for us”.

The other two co-rapporteurs are Antonio Panzeri, S&D MEP from Italy, who is the chair of the sub-committee on human rights, and the liberal Charles Goerens from Luxembourg.

Countries that deviate from democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights should face having their EU funding suspended, they also said. MEPs propose to increase the funds for human rights and democracy activities worldwide to at least €2bn. EU's financing for civil society organisations will rise to €2.2bn, and additional €0.5bn will go to local authorities.

The EU executive published a proposal for a regulation establishing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument in June last year. It suggested to allocate €89.2bn in current prices to the NDICI. This represents an increase of 11% compared to the resources allocated to the instruments and funds under the current MFF that the NDICI would replace. They include, together with merging other 10 regulations, the European Development Fund (EDF), which is currently outside the MFF.

The geographical component of the proposed regulation consists of programmes for the European Neighbourhood that include 16 countries - Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Ukraine. The other destinations are Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas and the Caribbean.

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