Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The EU Council has approved the use of Cohesion Policy funds to provide aid to refugees from Ukraine. “The measure will also reinforce member states’ ongoing efforts to tackle the extended impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”, it stated.
France’s Minister of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities, Joël Giraud, said the “EU has already welcomed nearly three million displaced persons, mostly women, and children, fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” It was essential, he added, to provide refugees with access to education, healthcare, employment, and other necessities.
“The swift release of cohesion resources for the displaced persons will allow member states, especially those on the frontline of the crisis, to urgently allocate funding to help the displaced Ukrainians as much as possible”, Giraud observed.
EU leaders had pledged to provide help when they met in Versailles earlier this month, he noted, and the bloc is “proud to live up to this commitment.”
The new proposal amends the rules for use of the Fund for European Aid for the Most Deprived and EU Structural and Investment Funds, making it easier to reallocate funds and extending full financing of cohesion programmes by a year.
This, the Council explained, means that “member states will be able to speed up the deployment of all un-programmed funding under the 2014-2020 period… additionally, they can use the 10 billion euro 2022 tranche under REACT-EU, one of the largest post-pandemic EU public investment programmes.”
Because of the urgency of the situation and the economic impact of the refugee influx, the proposal was supported without amendment.
Earlier this month, the European Commission proposed the move to relieve refugee-influx-related pressures on regional and national budgets, especially those in the eastern part of the bloc.
Following today’s endorsement, the European Parliament is expected to follow suit and similarly approve the proposal. According to the Council, “the legislative act is expected to be adopted in early April and will enter into force with immediate effect.”