Following on President Putin’s horrific, unlawful invasion of Ukraine, we have seen the EU act stronger, more united and indeed more humane, than maybe ever before. Thursday March 3 the ministers of Interior unanimously took the decision to activate the Temporary Protection Directive. That means the member states immediately opened up to welcome those fleeing from the war.
This was decided only four days after I presented the proposal for the first time at an extraordinary JHA meeting with ministers concerned. I will not forget the relief, the feeling of fresh air in the room, also the resolve when this historical decision was made.
Since then the amount of refugees increase by the hour, last number fleeing from Ukraine is nearly 3,2 million. All member states are affected but of course the neighboring countries most. Poland so far received around 2 million Ukrainians, Romania almost 700 000, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Rep also many. So far Moldova is the country receiving the highest numbers per capita, a non EU member, that we are supporting to an unprecedented degree.
The Temporary Protective Directive offers immediate protection and a clear legal status with access to housing, labor market, health care, social rights and school for children.
Now we have to do what the directive says. While people are arriving, the member states have to implement what was agreed.
Fantastic efforts are already done, governments adapt migration legislation, housing solutions are found in record time, staff are working around the clock, authorities work to make place for children in schools, adapt texts to Ukrainian languages, civilians are opening their homes…
However, this is an unprecedented situation for the EU, shortly after another unprecedented situation with the pandemic. It will be tough, we have to be sustainable for the long term and we have to do it together, all member states and the EU, supported by the Commission.
Last Friday (18 March) the Commission adopted operational guidelines to support member states in how to implement the Temporary Protective Directive
It is hands on, concrete advice on for ex clarifying who is entitled to temporary protection, encouraging Member States to consider extending protection to those who strictly-speaking would not fall under the scope but who need protection. Such as those who fled Ukraine not long before 24 February 2022.
Information is key to help in crises. That’s why we produced a special web page in different languages with explanations on rights and where to turn to ask for support.
The Commission give special attention to children and unaccompanied minors; almost half of the refugees coming are children. They must have full protection and swift access to specific rights, including education, healthcare, psychosocial assistance. Their well-being and security is key. We need to ensure full protection from the risks of trafficking. The Commission will finalize next week standard operating procedures on transfers of unaccompanied minors and children with special needs to member states who can give them the best assistance. To give concrete support to Member States on how to deal with children.
To bring together Member States, the Commission and EU agencies, we formed The Solidarity Platform, where we will collect needs identified and coordinate operational follow-up. Through the Platform, with exchange of information on a daily basis, we will follow up how member states are doing, and what kind of support they might need. It is very clear that solidarity is crucial to help the refugees, but also to help member states most affected. I count on member states full support in naming their needs. Transparency is also key: we need to know exactly how many people they have received, what is the reception capacity, can it be scaled up etc. For helping, we need to have a clear picture of the needs and available capacities.
I will also create a dedicated platform of cooperation with our international partners, who are ready to take their part in sharing the common responsibility. Canada just announced an unprecedented support programme for Ukrainians. US and UK are also considering their involvement. There are important diasporas in these countries. This can improve the lives of many Ukrainians. And working together will make us stronger.
In the EU we have several useful tools to, in practice, make the Temporary Protective Directive work. Erasmus+ can support staff to work temporarily, The EU Publications Office is ready to print schoolbooks in Ukrainian, The Commission will set up triage hubs in most affected Member States for patients directly at the border to make a first diagnosis, determine the urgency and identify hospitals for referral, we will put in place the necessary structures to help prepare for employment through language courses and counselling, we will launch well before summer an EU talent pool pilot for those fleeing the war in Ukraine to help them get jobs in Europe, we will launch an innovative ‘safe homes’ initiatives to embrace the initiatives at local and national level in several member states where people opened their houses to displaced persons from Ukraine. And many more other concrete projects.
When it comes to funding The Commission has taken immediate action to help mobilize financial support to Member States hosting those fleeing the war.
First, we will ensure that unspent money from existing budgets is quickly identified, and used in the best way. Already we have identified through the Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE), available funding in 2014-20 programmes. This includes European Regional Development funding and European Social Funding. And new funds will be available from the new financial period 2021-2027. In addition, available funding under REACT-EU, in particular its 2022 tranche of up to €10 billion, can be used if in line with the objective of ensuring recovery after the pandemic.
To be able to meet the increasing needs of people fleeing war in Europe, we have to work together. What I seen so far from member states, politician, authorities and citizens of the EU is very encouraging.
The present situation serves as a further reminder of the need to put in place a comprehensive migration and asylum management system. I will discuss all these matters in the extraordinary JHA Council on 28 March where I’m sure we will continue making progress.
This blog outlines the benefits of the proposals on migration tabled by the European Commission on 23 September 2020. For more detail on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum see below.
- Publication date
- 21 March 2022
- Directorate-General for Communication