20 Jul 2021

New paper outlines the role of NHRIs in the human rights scrutiny of EU funds for migration and asylum

NHRIs in compliance with the UN Paris Principles can play an important role in ensuring that governments spend public funds for migration and asylum in a way that complies and contributes to fulfilling human rights obligations. In a new paper, ENNHRI provides a short overview of the EU funds for migration in the period of 2021-2027 and the related opportunities and challenges for NHRIs regarding human rights scrutiny on the use of the funds. 

Migration and border management represent one of the seven priority areas in the European Union’s multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for the years 2021-2027. For the migration and border management area, the MFF allocates resources to two funds: the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF). The final legal basis for the AMIF is expected to include an explicit mention to National Human Rights Institutions.  

The policy cycle of EU funds has three main phases: programming, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The first and the third phases offer the most concrete opportunities for NHRIs to engage with national governments on how human rights obligations should be taken into consideration when MS prioritise, allocate and spend EU funds for migration and asylum.  

In the second half of 2021, Member States will formally negotiate their national programmes with the European Commission. During this programming phase, NHRIs could participate in the consultation process for the development of the national programmes, contributing to the identification and selection of priorities to ensure that the most pressing and important human rights issues receive appropriate funding. Different levels of involvement are available to NHRIs, as explained in the paper, such as: requesting information to government on the approach towards the funds; raising attention to the main human rights issues faced by asylum applicants, migrants and refugees; and providing recommendations to strengthen the human rights dimensions of national programmes. 

In 2023, Member States and the European Commission will conduct a mid-term evaluation of the national programmes and this will offer an opportunity for NHRIs to assess how government actually spent the EU funds and offer recommendations on improvements and corrections. 

Similarly, ENNHRI could engage with the European Commission in the preparation and evaluation of the work programmes at the EU level and inform EU policy-makers about common European human rights issues in relation to migration and asylum that could benefit from EU-funded programmes.    

The paper also addresses the perceived challenges for NHRIs in engaging on public funds for migration and asylum, for instance in relation to their legal mandate, time and resources. The publication offers insights on how to overcome those challenges. ENNHRI and partners can offer decisive support to NHRIs to effectively engage in the policy cycle, including by raising awareness to the potential and specific role that NHRIs can play in this process. 

In May 2021, ENNHRI organised a webinar with the participation of Estela Casajuana, Senior Researcher at Profundo, and Jonas Grimheden, former Programme Manager at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, to inform Members about the new EU funds and to discuss the role that rights-focused organisations could play to increase human rights scrutiny in the planning, implementation and oversight of the funds. 

» Read the full paper