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EU seeks to triple border, migration budget
[STRASBOURG] The European Union proposed Tuesday to nearly triple funds to secure its borders and curb migrants by setting aside 35 billion euros(S$55.05 billion) in the bloc's post-2020 budget.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, based its proposal on the "lessons" learned from 2015 when more than one million asylum seekers entered the bloc, sowing chaos and political division.
The call comes as fresh tensions flared over migration after Italy and Malta turned away a rescue boat carrying African migrants.
The extra funds will be used to bolster borders, stop and deport economic migrants, but admit and integrate genuine refugees, the commission said.
"Bigger challenges need bigger resources - this is why we propose to almost triple the budget in this area," EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said.
Brussels called for setting aside 34.9 billion euros for migration and border management in the 2021-2027 budget, up from 13 billion euros in the current 2014-2020 budget.
The commission last month proposed a 1.3 trillion euro budget after 2020, with large cuts for agriculture and development in poorer regions to make up for the loss of Britain's contribution after Brexit.
It wants the new budget to be agreed by the member countries and lawmakers before the next European Parliament elections in May 2019, two months after Britain leaves.
The proposal for border management calls for strengthening the European Border and Coast Guard to 10,000 personnel, from a current force of around 1,500.
In addition to curbing migration, the force will also boost customs control by checking for counterfeit or dangerous goods.
The EU has sharply cut migration since 2016 by striking controversial aid-for-cooperation agreements with Turkey and Libya, the main gateways to Europe.
Some 1.26 million people from war-torn Syria and other countries applied for asylum in EU countries in 2015, the peak of Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.