The images are the same on every channel: Ukrainian refugees, crammed into train stations or in traffic jams at the borders, waiting for a way out. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, almost 4 million of them have already found asylum in other European countries. But how does it work? Do refugees have rights and if they do, what are they?
To answer this question, this short report by Euronews (a pan-European news channel, partly financed by the European Union) takes stock of the existing aid and processes in European legislation.
Faced with these massive arrivals, the EU institutions have decided to grant temporary protection to people fleeing war. This emergency mechanism can be triggered in the event of a mass influx of people. It provides immediate and collective protection (there is no need to examine each application individually) to displaced persons who are unable to return to their country of origin.
All Member States have approved the activation of this three-year plan. For EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, this is a great show of solidarity – but it will also require additional funding.
What is included in the plan? It offers a right of residence, access to the labour market, the right to housing, social protection and access to health care and the education system.
This legislation was introduced in 2001 after the Kosovo refugee crisis and had never been activated until now. The only limitation is that it is up to each Member State to decide whether it wishes to extend the scheme to other nationalities fleeing Ukraine. This is a detail that may pose a problem for people living in Ukraine with an immigrant background.
Beyond this temporary protection, other aid mechanisms exist, as Catherine Woollard, Director of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), #1 on the list, reminds us, the ‘Asylum, Migration and Integration’ Fund. This fund, voted for a period of seven years, has as its main tasks the effective management of migratory flows and the implementation of the common asylum and immigration policy.
The 2021-2027 fund (€9.9 billion) is already underway. However, since the publication of this video, the European Parliament has voted to extend the use of the 2014-2020 Fund, which still has unused resources.