Inclusion Partnership of the EU Urban Agenda

Partnership on Ukraine

The April meeting of the Partnership on Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees was dedicated to the Ukraine war. Due to current pressing circumstances because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Partnership decided to open the room for the exchange again. The second Partnership meeting on Ukraine will take place on 6 May, with a presentation of the CEMR task force on Ukraine and experiences from some of the IncluCities partner cities. 

The goal of this first extra plenary meeting was to explore and discuss the most pressing issues and solutions related to the large inflow of refugees as a direct result of the war in Ukraine from different perspectives or levels of governance since the Partnership is composed of the Member States, cities, EU commission services and agencies and other relevant stakeholders.

In order to better discuss the impact of the Ukrainian war, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), the City of Amsterdam and DG HOME extended the invitations for this Partnership-session to include important additional perspectives, in particular from some EU cities (and relevant NGO’s) in the frontline, like the Polish cities Krakow and Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Athens.  

Identified challenges and pressing gaps

  • Challenges addressed related to reception, inclusion, and longer-term integration.
  • There is a need for quality data, for instance in relation to the flow of displaced persons and the ambition of people from Ukraine in the longer term.
  • Lack of coordination and communication of different levels of government (raised by Budapest, Gdansk, Warsaw).
  • Longer-term challenges related to housing and schooling (raised by EU cities, Commission services and the EIB).
  • The risk of human trafficking and the challenge to protect vulnerable groups, such as minors/unaccompanied children (raised by Portugal, MCE).
  • Various challenges related to emergency situations: finance, housing, education and transport.
  • Challenges with regards to registration; self-accommodated people are (often) administratively ‘invisible’ and it is not easy to register them and identify their needs. Some people do not want to register because they do not consider themselves as refugees.

Identified needs

  • Finance: financing that is needed on the ground, in the short term but in particular also for the longer-term infrastructure and for cities that are most in the forefront of the reception and integration challenges.
  • Data: accurate and timely, possible regularly update information, to get a better insight into short and long-term needs.
  • Share information and best practices from international organizations and cities that have experience with a high influx of migrants and refugees with less experienced cities. For example coordination, communication and long-term planning

Key points from the European Commission communication on Ukraine

The European Commission communication ‘Welcoming those fleeing the war in Ukraine: Readying Europe to meet the needs’, adopted on 24 March, is based on the existing Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion. There is a focus on long-term needs, considering that many of the displaced persons will have prolonged stay.

• The communication has a special focus on children. There is a need for support and funds for psychosocial care and access to the basic services for children. The Commission highlights the risk of trafficking and abduction. The Commission is preparing SOPs for the transfers of unaccompanied minors from Ukraine to EU MS.

• Access to education is envisioned as well as active access to jobs and health care.

• The Commission has included the Ukrainian language in the EU skills profile to help Ukrainian job seekers and those who wish to continue their studies in any EU MS.

• The Communication launched a new Safe Homes initiative, which supports families who accommodate in their homes Ukrainians fleeing the war.

The Temporary Protection Directive (TPD)

The Temporary Protection Directive (TPD):

• The TPD, which exists since 2001 in response to the Bosnian war, has been activated. It gives immediate and temporary protection to people who flee from a war zone, and it allows the EU to establish a common framework to react to situations where millions of displaced persons enter the EU and are in need of care and shelter.

• The TPD will be in force for at least one year, until 4 March 2023. If nothing changes, the maximum extension would be three years. An extension is very likely, which is good to consider for municipalities when deciding on the time period for residence permits.

• The TPD means that MS have to look for accommodations and think about education, although the directive limits it to state education. MS have also to look for employment opportunities, you may want to grant people access to the labour market, access to health services and social benefits.

• Numbers are very different in the EU. The highest number is in Poland, with 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees. More to the West the numbers are lower.

The Solidarity Platform 

• The Commission introduces the Solidarity Platform. It is a forum to help MS and Schengen associated countries to implement the TPD and to coordinate its implementation.

• The EU+ Member States are represented in the platform by National Contact points that work in the ministries of migration and coordinate with other departments and ministries in their respective government. The platform also brings together the EU agencies and international organizations like UNHCR and IOM. Other European Commission DGs (e.g. on transport, humanitarian aid, health, budget and regional funding) are coordinating on this platform.

• On a political level, the platform works alongside the European Council of ministers which is currently chaired by the French council presidency.

• On a practical level, the platform works closely together with the colleagues in charge of the Preparedness and Crisis Management Network (so-called blueprint) that provides daily situational information.

• One of the first deliverables was the coordination of a direct transfer of people from Moldova to EU MS. 15,500 persons should be airlifted in the near future and about 600/700 people have already been flown to Vienna, Berlin and other cities.

• The Platform is currently working on putting together information to bring the people from border crossing points to the main hubs in MS and guide the flows in a better way.

• Another stream of action is the cooperation with international partners (US, Canada, etc).

• The platform is also working on contingency planning, discussing the quality of EU data collection in relation to the current crisis. This is an area where DG HOME services are active: in the migration Directorate, colleagues prepare daily situational awareness pictures, trying to connect different sources of information (NGOs and local or national administrations) on displaced persons (where they come from, if they want to stay, where they want to go and so on.).

EU funding 

• The Ukrainian crisis comes in between two multiannual programme-periods (2014-2020 and 2021-2027). Most EU funds are under ‘shared management’, which means it's the MS who develop and implement national programmes. The 2021-2027 programmes are not yet adopted. With a view to make finance available for MS in response to the Ukrainian crisis, a special legislative proposal will be tabled soon. This allows for additional cash flow possibilities for MS. It also increases flexibility in using different EU funds in response to the5crisis. On AMIF, DG HOME is working with the member states to speed up the approval of the 2021-2027 programs.

• Thematic facility: Besides the ‘shared management funds’ managed nationally, there are funds managed directly by the EU Commission. In particularly relevant is the EMAS: emergency assistance support. This is not a large fund and it operates through calls for proposals for international organization dealing with the emergency on the ground in the different Member States. It is aimed at addressing emergency situations and helping the MS at the frontline. In the thematic facility, there is also attention to the needs of local authorities.

• A task force will be established that will look into how other EU funds can be applied or made available: the regional fund and the European social fund. This is about creating synergies across EU funds, for instance related to housing challenges.