RIGA - The European Parliament on Thursday gave the green light to redirect the European Union's (EU) regional and asylum funding to the bloc's member states sheltering people fleeing from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Janis Krastins, the European Parliament's spokesman in Latvia, told LETA that two weeks after the European Commission presented its proposal, MEPs adopted the Cohesion's Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) measures under the urgent procedure, with 562 votes to two and three abstentions.
The update to current cohesion policy rules will allow available funding to be reallocated quickly to help EU countries and their regions to provide emergency support (temporary accommodation, food and water supplies, medical care or education) to people fleeing from the Russian aggression in Ukraine. This could include 2014-2020 Cohesion policy funds that have not yet been allocated or spent, as well as an additional EUR 10 billion from REACT-EU funds.
EU countries can apply to the EU to get back money they have spent to help Ukrainian refugees retroactively as of February 24, the date on which Russia invaded Ukraine. The EU will be able to finance 100 percent (instead of the usual 85 percent) of cohesion funding spent by member states for one more year (from mid-2021 to mid-2022).
The EU cohesion funds support investments that foster the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU by trying to rectify inequality between its regions.
With 575 votes to four and three abstentions, MEPs also extended for one year, until mid-2024, the period in which both the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund 2014-2020 can be used, in order to give member states quick access to unused resources. EUR 420 million could be released to be spent on accommodation, food, healthcare or extra staff.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than three million people have left Ukraine since the beginning of the war, most of them heading to neighboring countries.
The draft rules will now be passed on to the EU Council for formal adoption. The regulation will enter into force one day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.