(Source: European Commission)
The Commission has adopted today a proposal for Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) allowing Member States and regions to provide emergency support to people fleeing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. CARE is introducing the necessary flexibility in the 2014-2020 Cohesion policy rules to allow a swift reallocation of available funding to such emergency support. On top, the 2022 envelope of €10 billion of the Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe (‘REACT-EU’) funds can also be used to address these new demands within the overall aim of post-pandemic recovery.
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “The EU stands in solidarity with Ukraine against the brutal invasion of the Russian Federation. Today’s proposals will make it easier and faster to mobilise Cohesion funds to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine, as well as to support Member States and frontline regions welcoming them. In addition, the exceptional 100% co-financing rate applied in response to the pandemic will be extended by a year, I invite the European Parliament and the Council to swiftly consider this proposal so that Member States and regions can make use of these new opportunities as quickly as possible.”
Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said: “With today’s proposal, the EU will ensure immediate support to those fleeing Ukraine. Member States will be able to use Cohesion funding to support refugees in finding jobs, starting or continuing education, and accessing childcare. They can also receive support for counselling, training and psychological assistance. Funding from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived will also be crucial to provide much-needed food and basic material assistance.”
Examples of emergency support
CARE will help Member States to provide emergency support covering the basic needs of people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These needs include access to services such as temporary accommodation, food and water supplies or medical care. CARE may also enhance the capacity of Member States to cater for the needs of refugees by supporting e.g. additional infrastructure equipment or staff necessary to cater for the needs of refugees. Moreover, Member States may use this funding to develop tailor-made solutions for the long-term integration of people with a migrant background through investments in housing, education, employment, health, social inclusion and care, or other social services. Cohesion policy support will complement the support from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and other funding sources. The Commission is also proposing today 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.
An exceptional instrument for exceptional circumstances
CARE introduces four main changes to cohesion policy rules to maximise the speed and ease with which Member States can help people fleeing Ukraine, while continuing to support regions’ recovery:
To ease national budgetary pressures, notably due to the extended impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the possibility of 100% EU co-financing for 2014-2020 Cohesion policy funding will be extended for the accounting year 2021-2022;
Member States and regions will have the possibility to use resources from either the European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF) or the European Social Fund (ESF) for any type of measures to support people fleeing Ukraine. Thanks to this flexibility either fund will also be able to support projects even if these would normally be funded by the other one;
Member State spending on all actions helping people fleeing Ukraine will be eligible for EU support retroactively as of the start date of the Russian invasion (24 February 2022);
The reporting and the programme modifications will be simplified.
The proposed amendments of the Common Provisions Regulation and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived Regulation require adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, in 2014, the EU and its Member States have contributed over €1 billion in humanitarian and early recovery aid to the country. Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, this support to the people of Ukraine has been scaled up. By stepping up humanitarian assistance and offering financial and operational support to Member States and Moldova, the EU and its Member States are providing a safe haven for people fleeing war in Ukraine. The EU has also reacted swiftly and decisively to Russia’s invasion by adopting sanctions that will have massive and severe consequences for Russia.
Today’s CARE proposal adds additional flexibility under 2014-2020 Cohesion policy, taking into account the urgency to address the migratory challenges as a result of the military invasion of Russia.
REACT-EU provides assistance to support crisis repair in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its social consequences and for preparing a green, digital and resilient recovery of the economy. It is funded under NextGenerationEU and can also be used by Member States to increase the allocation for programmes supported by the FEAD.
A significant part of the €10 billion from the 2022 REACT-EU is also available to Member States to support projects to assist people fleeing Ukraine in line with the overall aim of post-pandemic recovery, without the need for legislative changes. The REACT-EU resources already benefit from a number of implementation flexibilities that are now proposed for the 2014-2020 Cohesion policy.