The EU Parliament backs additional help for EU regions to ease the impact of the war

FAST- CARE, Flexible Assistance to Territories 

On 4 October, the European Parliament voted on 'FAST – CARE', the new funding package under the Cohesion Policy, supporting Member States to address the consequences of war in Ukraine. At least one-third of the funds should go to local authorities and civil society to ensure that financial help reaches the local communities on the front lines.

Press release

The new legislation simplifies the rules for member states using cohesion policy funds to address the migratory and investment challenges caused by the Russian aggression in Ukraine. It was approved with 592 votes, against 12 and 10 abstentions.

The EP’s Regional Development Committee fast-tracked the European Commission’s FAST-CARE (Flexible Assistance for Territories) proposal and referred it to the plenary without amendments in order to speed up its approval. The Plenary endorsed the text without changes. MEPs’ main concern is to make sure the aid is accessible to EU regions and member states as soon as possible.

The EP rapporteur Niklas Nienaß (Greens/EFA, DE) said: "In the face of Russian aggression, Europe has to respond fast and determinedly. With FAST-CARE, a cohesion policy will help Ukrainian refugees and allow European cities, municipalities, and the EU economy to mitigate the direct and indirect consequences of this terrible war. Simultaneously, MEPs ensured that the emergency package would not come at the expense of long-term investments. Cohesion policy brings Europe closer together. Solidarity across the regions and with our neighbours makes us stronger.”

In his presentation, Niklas Nienaß also stressed"We must support the towns, cities and regions that are taking in refugees. MEPs have voted to increase support for refugees, to include third-country nationals, and reduce the financial burden felt by regions, ... We welcome that FAST CARE will be implemented so quickly in order to ensure that money can go to those who need it most. The EU is demonstrating the ability to react quickly in a crisis and to deliver where it is needed ...These emergency measures are necessary and vital to support both regions and local NGOs in helping refugees affected by the war in Ukraine. However, the Commission should look to new sources of emergency funding in the future. Cohesion Policy is designed to minimise inequalities in the long run. The priorities of regional funds, such as supporting the green transition and strengthening social policies, should not be sidelined.”

Background

The legislation simplifies the rules for the use of cohesion resources in two areas: migration help and assistance to cohesion investments threatened by high energy costs and a shortage of raw materials and labour force. It provides for additional pre-financing of €3.5 billion in 2022 and 2023. It also allows for 100% EU financing for projects promoting the socio-economic integration of third-country nationals and removes the location requirement for refugees. Furthermore, to ensure help reaches local communities, at least 30% of the project amount must be granted to local authorities or local community organisations.

Next steps

The proposal will now have to be formally approved by the Council before entering into force on the day following its publication in the EU Official Journal.