What is the BMVI Fund?

The Border Management and Visa Policy Instrument (BMVI) is a European fund to which all EU member states and Schengen-associated states such as Switzerland contribute money. It finances measures such as the installation of IT systems for migration control, the implementation of risk analyses or the expansion of surveillance facilities. A total of 6.24 billion euros will be available for this “financial assistance in the area of border management and visa policy” from 2021 to 2027. The predecessor fund, ISF Border, had less than half as much money for the same objective for the years 2014 to 2020. Compared to the first such fund for the period 2007 to 2013, the increase is even more striking: 1.82 billion euros were available at that time.

Criticism: The measures financed by the BMVI fund are largely aimed at combating migration. The effects of this policy are well known: Violence, misery and death have become part of everyday life at Europe’s external borders. People on the run are disenfranchised, beaten and deported – be it at the Croatian-Bosnian border, on the Mediterranean, along the Evros River in Greece or in the Polish forests on the border with Belarus.

What is the official goal?

The BMVI Fund is intended to help ensure “sound and effective integrated European border management at the external borders and thus contribute to ensuring a high level of internal security within the Union while safeguarding the free movement of persons within the Union (…)”.

Criticism: The idea behind the BMVI fund is well known. In order to maintain the free movement of persons within the Schengen area, it is claimed that increased controls of the EU’s external borders and the fight against migration are needed. “Internal security within the Union” and violence at the EU’s external borders are two sides of the same coin. The freedom of movement of people with a European passport, who can not only move freely within the EU but also obtain a visa for almost all countries worldwide, is linked to the restrictions that people from e.g. African countries, the Middle East or Southeast Asia experience. The differences can be huge: a person with a Swiss passport only needs a visa for 22 countries, while a person with Afghan citizenship, for example, can only travel to 6 countries without a visa. The dividing lines drawn in this way often reflect economic and ecological exploitation relations that follow an imperial and neo-colonial logic.

What is the money for?

The following measures can be financed with money from the BMVI fund:

Criticism: Most of the measures listed serve to combat migration. Surveillance systems at the EU’s external borders are to be expanded, controls increased and local border police forces upgraded. New boats, all-terrain vehicles, helicopters, drones, high-tech cameras, dog squads and much more will be financed. Modern IT systems and standardized databases are also being set up. The systematic violence on the escape routes is well documented: People are beaten, abused, robbed and ultimately sent back (pushbacks). It is obvious that further militarization of the borders will only exacerbate the situation. For example, the Croatian border police have long been notorious for their brutality towards people on the run. These Croatian border operations were also financed by the Schengen Internal Security Fund (ISF), the predecessor fund of the BMVI.

How is the money distributed?

Member States with particularly long or strategically important external Schengen borders receive the largest share of the funds. Each member state receives a fixed amount of 8 million euros, with the exception of Cyprus, Malta and Greece, which each receive 28 million euros. The remaining funds will be distributed among the Member States according to four criteria: External land borders (30% of the remaining funds), external sea borders (35%), airports (20%) and consulates (15%).

Criticism: The ability to assess how the money from the BMVI fund is used has significant shortcomings. It is also complicated to suspend the funds if this is deemed necessary. It is stated that compliance with EU law and the “values of the European Union” are important when using the funds. Funds should be able to be suspended if there is a “clear risk of a serious breach of the values of the Union”. However, this “clear risk of a serious breach” is not further defined. As a result, the European Commission is given considerable discretionary power over what is considered potentially problematic. The European Commission has often been cautious in its assessment and condemnation of human rights violations at the EU’s external border. Furthermore, the lack of clarity regarding the definition of violations also represents a lack of democratic control over the use of funds.


BMVI-Fund, information by the State Secretariat for Migration

ISF-Fund, Information by the State Secretariat for Migration

(in German) VERORDNUNG (EU) 2021/1148 DES EUROPÄISCHEN PARLAMENTS UND DES RATES vom 7. Juli 2021 zur Schaffung eines Instruments für finanzielle Hilfe im Bereich Grenzverwaltung und Visumpolitik im Rahmen des Fonds für integrierte Grenzverwaltung

COUNCIL DECISION on the signature, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the Swiss Confederation on supplementary rules in relation to the instrument for financial support for border management and visa policy under the Integrated Border Management Fund, 10.07.2023

«At What Cost – Funding the EU’s security, defence, and border policies», report by the Transnational Institute, 2021–2027, 28.04.2022

Participation of Switzerland

The BMVI is a Schengen development. As a Schengen-associated state, Switzerland is fundamentally called upon to adopt it. Over the seven-year term of the fund, Switzerland is expected to contribute around CHF 300 million, although this amount is likely to increase.

Criticism: Switzerland is actively helping to finance the militarization of Europe’s external borders. This makes Switzerland partly responsible for the violence, misery and deaths that have become commonplace on the escape routes to Europe.

Processes and positioning of the parties

The Security Committee of the National Council approved participation in the BMVI Fund in October 2023. The bill was subsequently also adopted by the National Council in the 2023 winter session. In January 2024, the Security Policy Committee of the Council of States approved Switzerland’s participation in the BMVI Fund. In the spring session of 2024, the States Council also approved the bill.

In the vote in the National Council, only the SVP voted against it. Parliamentarians from the Greens abstained. They fear human rights violations at the external borders. All other parties, including the SP, voted in favor. The SP argued that the BMVI Fund is a solidarity mechanism and that it was essential to “support the Schengen states under particular pressure in controlling the external borders”. It only called for an investigation into the exact use of the funds.

Criticism: The BMVI fund is not a solidarity mechanism. Pushbacks, violence on escape routes and barbed wire fences are deeply lacking any solidarity with refugees and migrants. The suggestion that Switzerland benefits from the current European asylum system also resonates with a deeply racist idea: It brands non-European people as a danger to Europe and Switzerland in a generalizing and derogatory way.


Parliamentary issue 23.059 (in German): Weiterentwicklung des Schengen-Besitzstands. Financial assistance in the area of border management and visa policy

(in German) Visumpolitik und Grenzverwaltung: Ja zur Teilnahme an EU-Fonds, press release by the Sicherheitspolitische Kommission of the national council, 10.10.2023

National Council debate, winter session 2023, 06.12.2023

(in German) Nationalrat für Millionenbeitrag an Schutz der EU-Aussengrenze, announcement by the SDA about after the vote in the national council 06.12.2023

(in German) SiK-S befürwortet Beteiligung am europäischen Fonds für Visumpolitik und Grenzverwaltung, Press release by the Sicherheitspolitische Kommission of the state council, 12.01.2024