Ukraine: EU steps up solidarity with those fleeing war
The Commission outlines today the very substantial support the EU is making available to help people fleeing war in Ukraine, as well as the EU countries receiving them. In the face of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military invasion of Ukraine, European solidarity in action is helping people through direct humanitarian aid, emergency civil protection assistance, support at the border, as well as a clear legal status allowing those fleeing the war to receive immediate protection in the EU.
The assistance available includes:
- Humanitarian support: As President von der Leyen has announced, €500 million from the EU budget is being directed to deal with the tragic humanitarian consequences of the war, both inside Ukraine and beyond. Of this, €90 million in humanitarian aid including €85 million for Ukraine and €5 million for Moldova, is already under way to provide food, as well as water, healthcare, shelter, and to help cover the basic needs of the most vulnerable. Through the largest ever activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in response to an emergency, millions of items including vehicles, medical kits, tents, blankets, and sleeping bags have already reached those in need in Ukraine, while further assistance is delivered to neighbouring Moldova, Poland and Slovakia to support all those fleeing the war.
- Support for border management: The Commission has issued operational guidelines to help Member States’ border guards in managing arrivals at the borders with Ukraine efficiently and reduce waiting time while maintaining a high level of security. EU agencies are also providing extra staff and expertise to support Member States, with for instance 49 Frontex staff deployed at EU-Ukraine and Moldova-Ukraine borders and an extra 162 staff being deployed to Romania. Moldova will also receive an additional €15 million to help manage the situation.
- Protection for those fleeing and support for reception capacity: In record time the EU unanimously agreed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to bring clarity and security to people in need, offering rights to welfare support, access to the job market and education. Central to this approach is the solidarity between Member States. A ‘Solidarity Platform’, where Member States can exchange information about reception capacity will be coordinated by the Commission. The Home Affairs funds for 2021-27 will also bring significant extra resources for Member States to ensure adequate reception facilities and effective asylum procedures. The Commission is also proposing to prolong the implementation period for the money available to Member States under the 2014-2020 Home Affairs funds, which would release around €420 million in additional support. The Commission will publish on the Europa website information to help citizens and the private sector ensure that their support to those fleeing the war can come through trusted organisations and match the needs.
- Cohesion policy action for refugees in Europe: The Commission is also adopting the “Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe” (CARE) legislative proposal. This will bring additional flexibility to finance a wide range of measures supporting people fleeing Ukraine, from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for the European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). For example, these cohesion funds can be spent on investments in education, employment, housing, health and childcare services, and in the case of FEAD, on basic material assistance like food and clothing. To further support Member States, the exceptional 100% co-financing rate applied in response to the pandemic will be extended by a year. Moreover, around €10 billion from the 2022 Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe (‘REACT-EU’) funds is readily available and can also be used to finance actions to support those fleeing Ukraine.
Members of the College said:
High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell said: “We are living the darkest times in Europe since World War II. Civilians are the first victims of Putin’s senseless war against Ukraine. The EU will support and protect those escaping Russia’s aggression – no matter their nationality, no matter where they come from. The EU will also mobilise all its tools to help those who host them.”
Vice-President for Promoting out European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Visiting the borders, we witnessed incredibly moving scenes, with national officials, civil society and ordinary citizens coming to the aid of those arriving from Ukraine. The European Union is supporting these efforts with the full force and breadth of our instruments, personnel and funding. The activation of the temporary protection directive is an unequivocal and very tangible expression of support with those fleeing the war in Ukraine. And today we are mobilising additional funding to support Member States in this effort.”
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “A welcome reprieve in these difficult times is the solidarity shown by Europeans and European Member States to people fleeing the war in Ukraine. I saw this spirit first hand in Siret, Romania and Medyka, Poland, but it is there across the EU. When we act together we act effectively – protecting people fleeing the war in Ukraine. This is Europe at its best: Providing the temporary protection needed and the funds to back it up.”
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “The biggest casualty of this brutal military aggression are innocent people living in Ukraine. The EU together with its Member States is working around the clock to bring emergency assistance in Ukraine and to countries directly affected by the influx of migrants. At the same time, we are providing lifesaving aid to our humanitarian partners on the ground to reach people in need. It is imperative that this aggression stops now as the humanitarian situation is getting critical with each passing day.”
Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, war has unfortunately returned to Europe and in these darkest hours we need to help Ukraine but also its neighbours who are affected. Our first emergency assistance is already being delivered. And we are, as part of €500 million, urgently preparing a package of €330 million to provide assistance to people both in Ukraine and those forced to flee, especially the children and the elderly. And we work on longer-term objectives, from energy security to economic recovery and resilience.”
On 24 February, the Russian armed forces launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. As a result of this unprovoked and unjustified aggression, substantial areas of the Ukrainian territory now constitute areas of war from which many persons are fleeing. Through stepping up humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, as well as financial and operational support to Member States and Moldova, the EU and its Member States are providing protection for people fleeing war in Ukraine. The EU has also reacted swiftly and decisively to Russia’s aggression by adopting severe sanctions that will have massive consequences for Russia.
The EU will continue to stand united in its solidarity with Ukraine and its people. The Commission will continue providing support, including by ensuring the adequate level of preparation and a long-term focus on delivery in all Member States and Moldova to be ready to meet the needs as they evolve.
For More Information
Communication on European solidarity with refugees and those fleeing war in Ukraine
Website – EU solidarity with Ukraine
Website – Relocating to the EU: Information for people fleeing the war in Ukraine
Press release – Ukraine: Cohesion funding to support people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Q&A on the Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) proposal