Ten member states of the European Union have asked the European Commission for additional funds and more flexible spending rules to handle the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, according to a joint statement revealed on Tuesday.
The statement, signed by the ministers in charge of finances or EU funds from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, was revealed by Politico.
The ministers argue that the EU faces an “unprecedented challenge” due to the war in Ukraine, but its “negative impact is asymmetrical” and “several of the effects, especially the humanitarian ones, are particularly and disproportionately severe in member states. Undersigned”.
They claim that more than 5.3 million Ukrainians have arrived in their countries, and almost half of them are children, placing a serious burden on their social security system, in addition to “already high inflation and energy costs”. ”, which have been exacerbated by the war.
Meanwhile, they warn that “the majority of Ukrainian workers have left our countries to fight for the sovereignty of their country. Labor shortages have already become apparent, particularly in the construction and transportation sectors.”
The statement welcomes the budget support already adopted, but calls on the European Commission to come forward with additional proposals to strengthen EU support for refugees and their hosts.
In particular, the signatories call on the EU executive body to allow more of the remaining funds from the 2014-2020 financial period to be used and to allow greater budget flexibility and simpler rules for spending them.
They also suggest “creating an optional reserve of up to 5%” in the Cohesion Funds dedicated to each country for the current 2021-2027 budget cycle that can be used “without additional bureaucracy” to face “the direct and indirect impacts of the war”.
EU member states last week received a total of 3.5 billion euros ($3.7 billion) from the EU budget to manage the arrival of Ukrainian refugees as pre-financing for post-pandemic recovery programs.
Ukraine’s neighboring EU countries, which have taken in most of the refugees after Russia’s war began on February 24, are the biggest beneficiaries of the budget transfer.
Poland received more than €562 million, while Romania and Hungary benefited from €450 million and €300 million, respectively.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia received support of €284 million and €209 million, respectively.
Under the EU Temporary Protection Directive, Ukrainian citizens, their family members and residents of the country are entitled to protection in any EU Member State.
The protection regime grants the right to work, residence, education, social benefits and medical care for at least one year with a possible extension of two years.
. . (HAS), ..