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European Fund for Refugees (2000-2004)

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The European Union established the European Refugee Fund to group in a single instrument the measures concerning integration and those concerning reception and voluntary repatriation in the event of a massive influx of refugees and displaced persons. The Fund, which was set up for a period of five years (2000-04), has been extended for the period 2005-2010.

ACT

Council Decision 2000/596/EC of 28 September 2000 establishing a European Refugee Fund.

SUMMARY

1. Pilot projects aimed at refugees and displaced persons have been financed by the Commission since 1997. This experience prompted the Union to set up a European Refugee Fund grouping in a single instrument the measures relating to integration, reception and voluntary repatriation which had been the subject of the Joint Action of 26 April 1999. By establishing a multiannual project, the Council is taking the Amsterdam Treaty as a basis for carrying out long-term measures in favour of refugees and displaced persons and for meeting the requests formulated by the Tampere European Council in October 1999 for the creation of an instrument suited to emergency situations.

Financial balance

2. The establishment of the European Refugee Fund is the first step towards a common asylum system. The Fund has run for five years (2000-2004). It introduced a system of financial redistribution to balance the burdens borne by the Member States. Inequalities between reception facilities for refugees and displaced persons should be remedied because they cause imbalances in financial and organisational burdens in the Union: displaced persons go to the country which appears most attractive to them and they sometimes go from one Member State to another in that quest, thereby increasing the burden of the Member States. This Community financial support is also an incentive to improve reception conditions and to introduce fair and effective asylum procedures in States where that is necessary. Moreover, the aim of Community aid is to make it easier to adjust the facilities of countries that experience large alterations in the volume or nature of movements of refugees.

Measures supported by the Fund

3. Measures financed by the Fund are for persons with the status of refugee or persons benefiting from another form of international protection and displaced persons benefiting from temporary protection and, depending on the nature of the measures, persons applying for such status or protection.

4. The European Fund will support the Member States in the following respects:

  • improvement of reception conditions and procedures in terms of infrastructure and services (accommodation, material assistance, medical care, social assistance, assistance with administrative and judicial formalities)
  • integration of persons benefiting from a stable form of international protection (aid for immediate needs, sociocultural adjustment). These persons must be made as independent as possible.
  • voluntary repatriation and reintegration in the country of origin. Community assistance will give access to reliable information, necessary advice, training and assistance for reintegration.

5. The reference amount for financing the Fund has been set at 216 million for the five years of operation. 5% of the Fund's annual budget can be used to finance innovative or transnational Community measures (studies, pilot projects, exchanges of experience, assessment of measures implemented, etc.).

6. The Council, initially acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and subsequently in accordance with the provision laid down by the directive on temporary protection can decide to allocate part of the Fund to emergency measures in the event of a massive influx of refugees or displaced persons (accommodation, food, clothing, healthcare, administrative and organisational costs).

The implementation of measures

7. The Member States are mainly responsible for the implementation of the measures covered by the Fund and they coordinate measures at national level. Each Member State submits a cofinancing application each year. The Commission examines the applications and takes the cofinancing decisions. The Member States manage and select the individual projects in accordance with pre-established criteria (requirements, cost/effectiveness ratio, profile of the applicant organisation, complementarity with other measures).

8. Since the implementation of long-term measures is decentralised, the Member States must provide guarantees with regard to the methods employed and quality of the work, results accompanied by assessments, sound financial management and how measures are monitored as well as the prevention and rectification of irregularities. The Commission ensures that national management and control systems operate effectively. It can also carry out on-the-spot checks and in some cases reduce payments to the Member State or make financial corrections (reduced payments, total or partial withdrawal of participation of the Fund in the measure in question).

Emergency measures in the event of a massive influx of persons

9. With regard to emergency measures in the event of a massive influx of persons, the Commission will divide resources available, on the basis of the number of persons who entered the State, between each Member State concerned on the basis of proposals by those Member States. With regard to the financing of other measures, a minimum amount is allocated to each Member State each year (this amount will be reduced gradually from EUR 500 000 in 2000 to EUR 100 000 in 2004). The remainder of the resources is divided between the Member States on the basis of statistics compiled by the European Communities Statistical Office for the previous three years. The number of applications for protection will be given a 65% weighting, against 35% for the number of refugees accepted and displaced persons receiving temporary protection. Community support for the financing of projects will not exceed 50% of the total cost of each project (75% for the Member States drawn from the Cohesion Fund). There are different procedures for emergency measures: financial support can cover 80% of the cost of each measure for a maximum of six months. The available resources are then divided between the Member States on the basis of then number of displaced persons they receive.

Monitoring and organisational measures

10. With regard to monitoring and assessment of the projects, each Member State will each year present the financial accounts and an activity report to the Commission on the basis of detailed summary reports drawn up by the authorities responsible for implementing the measures. In addition, it will carry out an independent assessment of the implementation and impact of the measures. The Commission will present two summary reports on the projects undertaken to the Parliament and the Council, an interim report no later than 31 December 2002 and a final report before 1 June 2005.

11. The Commission will be assisted by an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a Commission representative.

12. With regard to 2000 and 2001 transitional measures are to be applied to the establishment of the amounts to be allocated to the Member States, the procedure for approving cofinancing requests and the criteria of eligibility for support from the Fund.

European Refugee Fund II

13. On 12 February 2004 the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Decision establishing the European Refugee Fund (ERF) for the period 2005-2010 (see under Related Acts). The new proposal is intended to express solidarity between the European Community and the Member States concerning the reception of asylum-seekers and the management of asylum procedures, the integration of persons benefiting from international protection and measures promoting the voluntary repatriation of protected persons or persons whose applications for asylum have been refused.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2000/596/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2004/0032]28.09.2000-OJ L 252 of 06.10.2000

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision of 2 December 2004 establishing the European Refugee Fund for the period 2005 to 2010 [Official Journal L 381 of 28.12.2004]
This Decision establishes the European Refugee Fund for the period from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2010. The purpose of the Fund is to support the efforts of the Member States to receive refugees and displaced persons by co-financing reception conditions and asylum procedures, the integration of persons whose stay in the Member State is of a lasting and stable nature and the voluntary return of persons provided they have not acquired a new nationality and have not left the territory of the Member State. Actions in the Member States will be implemented on the basis of two multiannual programme phases (2005 to 2007 and 2008 to 2010). The amount for the period from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2006 is EUR 114 million.

Commission Decision 2002/307/EC of 18 December 2001 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Decision 2000/596/EC as regards management and control systems and procedures for making financial corrections in the context of actions co-financed by the European Refugee Fund [Official Journal L 106 of 23.4.2002].

Commission Decision 2001/275/EC of 20 March 2001 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Decision 2000/596/EC as regards the eligibility of expenditure and reports on implementation in the context of actions co-financed by the European Refugee Fund [Official Journal L 95 of 5.4.2001].

Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof [Official Journal L 212 of 7.8.2001].

Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof [Official Journal L 212 of 07.08.2001].

Last updated: 30.06.2005
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