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Almost €15 m expected from EU for Malta border control

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Almost €15 m expected from EU for Malta border controlThe European Commission proposed to allocate €370.1 million to Member States for actions in the field of border management and visa policy in 2012.This envelope will be available under the External Borders Fund to support investments in Member States and non-EU countries participating in Schengen, in particular those most affected by increased migratory pressures.

Malta was allocated €2.709.034 in 2011, in 2012 it is expected to receive a substantial increase in allocation at €14.931.533.

“The available support by the External Borders Fund will significantly increase in 2012. The proposed allocation is a concrete example of EU solidarity in action and will help enhancing border security and visa management,” said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

A total envelope of €370.1 million will be distributed in 2012 to Member States and associated countries for improving the security at the EU’s external borders. The amount allocated to national programmes (€321.9 million) will increase by 35 % compared to 2011. The rest will go to transnational actions and actions of interest to the EU (€22.2 million), specific actions at specific border sections (€10 million) and the special transit scheme for Russian citizens travelling to Kaliningrad through Lithuania (€16 million).

The distribution among Member States and associated countries is decided by the Commission on the basis of factual criteria and an assessment of the difficulties and risks associated with the controls of the common external border. It also takes into account the recent events in the Mediterranean region which have prompted large numbers of people to flee the region, some of them towards Europe. Italy will therefore benefit from a significant increase of its allocation, from €32 million in 2011 to €52 million in 2012. Apart from Malta, Cyprus, Spain, Greece and France will also benefit from a substantial increase of their allocation.

With the assistance of the External Borders Fund Member States are purchasing equipment, means of transport for border control, developing IT systems, refurbishing the offices for visa handling and providing training to border guards and consular staff. Co-financing by the Fund has led to improvements at external borders and at border crossing points, such as reductions of time needed for passenger checks and the modernisation of surveillance systems. Moreover, past investments in modern technology, such as biometric capture devices, have contributed to swifter processing of visa applications of third-country nationals in Member States’ consulates.

For 2012 the Commission identifies 5 areas where significant investments should benefit from support by the Fund:

Investments at national level for the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), in particular the last necessary investments to complete the national system and the testing phases of the central system;

Investments at national level for the Visa Information System (VIS) and additional testing, the equipment of all external border crossing points with fingerprint scanners and connection of all consulates to the central system;

Setting up of national coordination centres in the framework of the European Surveillance System (EUROSUR) project

The implementation of state-of-the-art technology equipment for border control (e.g. automatic border controls systems in airports for crossing of external borders);

The promotion of consular cooperation between Member States for the issuing of visas (notably by setting up common application centres).

The construction of the Schengen area means that one Member State controls its section of the external borders on behalf of all the others. The External Borders Fund establishes a financial solidarity mechanism to support those Member States that face different situations due to their geographical location, and the patterns of travel flows and migratory routes. It is one of the four financial instruments managed by DG Home Affairs under the General Programme on “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows.”

Schengen Associated States (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) have been participating in the External Borders Fund since 2010. The United Kingdom and Ireland do not participate in the Fund.

The overall budget of the External Borders Fund for 2007-2013 is €1820 million.

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