As part of the EU’s efforts to support Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, EU ambassadors today endorsed a proposal giving member states immediate access to more initial funding from REACT-EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe), as well as facilitating the provision of basic needs and support for refugees from Ukraine.
A total of €3.5 billion will be paid out this year as increased initial pre-financing under REACT-EU, one of the largest post-pandemic recovery programmes aimed at reinforcing cohesion policy funds and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).
Member states with higher numbers of arrivals, as either transit countries or countries of final destination, will receive a larger share.
The proposal makes it possible to alleviate the pressure on the public budgets of member states, so that they can deal with the inflow of refugees from Ukraine.
To this end, the pre-financing from the 2021 tranche of REACT-EU will be increased from 11% to 15% for all member states, and from 11% to 45% for those EU countries where the inflow of refugees from Ukraine amounted to over 1% of their populations at the end of the first month following the Russian invasion.
The countries which will receive 45% pre-financing are Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, which share a border with Ukraine, as well as Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia and Lithuania, which had accommodated a number of displaced persons equivalent to over 1% of their populations by 23 March 2022.
In addition, the proposal introduces a unit cost per person, thereby enabling an easier and swifter implementation of the funds.
Above all, the unit cost will facilitate the financing of essential needs for people from Ukraine granted temporary protection by the EU or other adequate protection under national law.
That unit cost is set at €40 per week and can be used for a maximum of 13 weeks, starting from the date on which the person concerned arrives in the European Union.
Background and next steps
On 23 March, the European Commission proposed legislative amendments aimed at increasing pre‑financing from REACT-EU. Following the European Council conclusions of 24-25 March inviting the Commission to work on additional proposals so as ‘to ensure that EU funding for refugees and their hosts can be mobilised rapidly’, the Commission amended its proposal to make use of a simplified cost option.
The proposal complements the Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE), which introduced extra flexibility in the implementation of EU funds and the possibility of member states using the 2022 REACT-EU tranche to assist refugees from Ukraine.
The European Parliament is expected to adopt the current proposal under the urgent procedure, which will make it possible for the Council to promptly adopt the legislative act so that it can enter into force in mid-April.