EU proposes border management, visa policy funding boost for Bulgaria

EU proposes border management, visa policy funding boost for Bulgaria

The European Commission has proposed increasing the funding allocation to Bulgaria "for actions in the field of border management and visa policy" in 2012 from this year's 7.8 million euro to a provisional 10.8 million euro.This emerged from an announcement that the Commission has proposed allocating 370.1 million euro to European Union member states through 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," the Commission said on August 5 2011."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", Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said.A total envelope of 370.1 million euro will be distributed in 2012 to EU states and associated countries for improving security at the EU's external borders.The amount allocated to national programmes (321.9 million euro) will be 35 per cent higher than in 2011. The rest will go to transnational actions and actions of interest to the EU (22.2 million euro), specific actions at specific border sections (10 million euro) and the special transit scheme for Russian citizens travelling to Kaliningrad through Lithuania (16 million euro).The European Commission statement said that distribution among EU 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, the Commission said, will therefore benefit from a significant increase of its allocation, from 32 million euro in 2011 to 52 million euro in 2012. Malta, Cyprus, Spain, Greece and France will also benefit from a substantial increase of their allocation, the Commission said.With the assistance of the External Borders Fund, EU countries 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, according to the Commission."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," the Commission said."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." (Source: The Sofia Echo)

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