FAST-CARE: Council adopts negotiating mandate on further help for refugees from Ukraine and on addressing the consequences of Russia’s aggression

The permanent representatives of the 27 EU member states today agreed on the Council’s negotiating mandate for further support to countries and regions hosting displaced persons from Ukraine, as well as for tackling some of the adverse economic effects of Russia’s aggression.

The legislative proposal, known as FAST–CARE (Flexible Assistance for Territories), introduces new provisions for additional flexibility and maximum efficiency of cohesion policy investment.

To speed up the procedure, the Council decided not to amend the text of the Commission’s proposal.

The urgent adoption of the Council’s mandate sends a strong signal of solidarity with member states and regions that have welcomed millions of people fleeing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The situation continues to deteriorate because of the war, and we must act quickly to ensure that cohesion resources are made available where they are most needed.

Ivan Bartoš, Czech Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Minister of Regional Development

The proposal extends the support already provided under Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE). It amends two basic regulations governing the rules of cohesion policy for the budgetary periods of 2014–2020 and 2021–2027.

The measures follow a people-based approach and ring-fence 30% of the expenditure on refugees for local authorities and civil society organisations, as they are at the forefront of the migratory pressure, working within local communities.

Among other things, the proposal provides for:

  • further €3.5 billion of pre-financing for cohesion projects to provide additional liquidity
  • extending the possibility of 100% co-financing for investment in promoting the socio-economic integration of third-country nationals
  • raising the newly established unit cost to support refugees from €40 to €100 per person per week and extending its application from 13 to 26 weeks from the moment the person asks for protection
  • extending the possibilities for transferring resources for actions supporting refugees not only between the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund, but also from the Cohesion Fund
  • retroactively reimbursing projects dealing with refugee-related needs that have already been completed

In addition, the measures provide for greater flexibility in the phasing of cohesion policy projects from one budgetary period to the next to take into account delays in implementation caused by the increasing prices of materials and energy, as well as labour shortages.

Background and next steps

On 29 June 2022, the Commission tabled the FAST-CARE proposal in response to the European Council conclusions of May 2022, calling for new initiatives in support of millions of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, including by helping neighbouring countries.

Following today’s adoption of the Council’s mandate, the European Parliament is expected to approve its position as soon as possible in the autumn, which will determine the next procedural steps for the adoption of the legislation.