What are the main actions that the EU has taken to support people fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine?
The EU commitment to protect those fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine is unwavering. The EU's first-ever activation of the Temporary Protection Directive on 4 March 2022 offered those fleeing the war a clear legal status and unprecedented protection across the EU, with rights to accommodation, education, and healthcare, as well as to access to work.
The Commission intends to make full use of the tools available under the Temporary Protection Directive and allow for the temporary protection granted to be extended for a further year until March 2024.
The Commission has also provided unprecedented flexibility in the use of EU funding to underpin the efforts of Member States, key organisations and civil society to support those in need:
-The Commission has taken swift action to mobilise available resources from Cohesion Policy Funds. The Cohesion's Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) proposals made in the immediate aftermath of the invasion allowed Member States to make best use of resources still available under the 2014-2020 Cohesion envelope, including REACT-EU. These were followed up by FAST-CARE, covering the 2021-2027 period. These both help Member States to access the maximum of swift funding through pre-financing and 100% co-financing. Programmes adopted under the European Social Fund (ESF)/ESF+ also concentrate significant efforts towards addressing the consequences of the war.
-The 2014-2020 Home Affairs Funds supported first-reception needs (emergency accommodation, food, healthcare etc.) and implementation of temporary protection (initial processing and registration activities, referral of persons to specialised support services etc.). Part of support should be channelled to civil society organisations and local and regional authorities, which play an essential role in delivering the emergency assistance.
For longer-term needs, significant funding is available under the 2021-2027 financial framework.
How many refugees from Ukraine have arrived in the EU?
More than 4,3 million registrations for temporary protection or adequate protection under Member States' national law have been recorded, out of which 2,3 million are women. Over half a million Ukrainian children have already been integrated in Member States' national school systems
What is the situation like on the migration routes?
The Central Mediterranean route continues to be one of the most active route, with most arrivals to Italy and a substantial decrease of the number of arrivals to Malta. Tunisians, Egyptians and Bangladeshi are the main nationalities along the route. Departures take place mostly from Libya and Tunisia, though Turkey now accounts for 16% of total arrivals. 2022 also saw migratory movements from Lebanon directly to Italy.
Irregular arrivals along the Eastern Mediterranean route doubled compared to 2021, mostly due to heightened migratory pressure in Cyprus, which currently accounts for roughly 60% of arrivals along the route. The number of arrivals in Greece remains lower than before the pandemic. Syrians, Nigerians and Turks are the main nationalities on this route.
On the Western Mediterranean/Atlantic route: Algeria and Morocco/Western Sahara remain the main countries of departure towards mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. Main countries of origin are Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea.
In the first eight months of 2022, there were 86 581 detected irregular border crossings along the Western Balkans route, nearly three times more than in 2021 and more than ten times the total in the same period in 2019. The main nationalities were Syrian, Afghan and Turkish.
The Commission and Frontex alongside other EU Agencies are active along the whole migratory routes and have been providing support to Member States. The Commission is also promoting dialogue and cooperation with third countries of origin and transit, so that we can work in partnership and jointly tackle common migration challenges.
How is the increased pressure on the Western Balkan Route being addressed?
This year there has been a particularly strong increase in arrivals on the Western Balkans route. Movements along this route are influenced by several factors, including economic pressures, rising inflation, insecurity along the Syrian border, as well as an increasing number of people arriving by air to Serbia due to the visa-free regimes.
It is crucial that Western Balkan partners align their visa policies with the EU. The Commission is pursuing this issue with the relevant partners bilaterally, in the framework of the visa suspension mechanism, and under the enlargement process.
The Commission and Frontex alongside other EU Agencies are active along the whole migratory route and have been providing support to Member States.
The Commission continues to hold regular meetings with all partners along the Western Balkan Route in the format of the Leaders' Meeting on refugee arrivals along the Western Balkan route first established in 2015.
Vice-President Schinas undertook a series of visits at the beginning of October to engage with Western Balkan partners, to better understand the situation on the ground and to explore how best to address it in a spirit of cooperation.
The Vice-President's visits come ahead of the Justice and Home Affairs Council due to take place on 14 October, before which Commissioner Johansson will meet with the most affected EU Member States. Given the sharp increase of arrivals, the Commission decided in September 2022 to activate the EU migration preparedness and crisis management (Blueprint) network to address the situation with increased vigilance.
How is the situation on the Eastern border with Belarus and Russia?
The actions by the Lukashenko regime and its supporters are to be seen as a determined attempt to create a continuing and protracted crisis, as part of a broader concerted effort to destabilise the European Union, testing its unity and resolve.
Our response has been fast, effective and comprehensive. The Commission reached out to the countries of origin and transit and to airlines to prevent more people from being deceived and put at risk by this state-sponsored instrumentalisation.
As a result, the situation at the external border with Belarus has de-escalated significantly.
However, there is recent evidence of a slight increase in attempts of irregular border crossings - still significantly below the peak in 2021 - at the border with Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, while nationalities and routes appear to be shifting, with many arriving in Belarus after travelling legally to Russia.
Between 24 February and 25 September, over 1.3 million entries of Russian citizens were recorded to Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Lithuania and Norway through Russia and Belarus. Nevertheless, the situation is still volatile, therefore we must remain vigilant.
What is the state of play on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum?
The New Pact on Migration and Asylum remains more relevant than ever. The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached on 7 September on a joint roadmap between the European Parliament and the rotating Presidencies of the Council of the EU. The roadmap lays the grounds for an increased dialogue on the New Pact, providing impetus for the conclusion of negotiations by February 2024 on all pending legislative files related to asylum and migration management. The Commission calls on Parliament and Council to swiftly adopt their positions on all the pending legislative files, so that negotiations from autumn 2022 ensure equivalent and balanced progress with the aim of adopting all proposals on the table by February 2024.
What legal pathways will the EU put in place?
Two to three million non-EU nationals already come legally to the EU every year. An ambitious and sustainable legal migration policy, a key component of the New Pact's comprehensive approach, needed to create safe pathways to Europe and to help attract skills and talent that our economies need, given an ageing population and urgent skills gaps. Forward-looking policies for legal migration to the EU in the medium to the longer term would be focused around three areas of action: care, youth and innovation. These policies aim to attract skills and talent in sectors where there are labour shortages and needs, for example in the long-term care sector.
The Skills and Talent package aims to address labour market needs linked to current demographic trends and skill shortages in the EU and prepare for future needs. The package includes legal, operational and policy initiatives to benefit the EU's economy, strengthen cooperation and partnerships with non-EU countries and improve long-term migration management.
The Commission also calls on Parliament and Council to swiftly progress in the negotiations on the legislative proposals included in the package. The recast of the Directive on long-term residents will further improve the rights and the intra-EU mobility of those migrants who are already well integrated in our societies, while the recast of the Single Permit Directive will further streamline and simplify the admission procedures for the benefit of employers, migration authorities and migrants themselves, and improve the protection of non-EU workers. The start of the discussions in Parliament and Council on these proposals will contribute to putting in place a solid framework to attract new talent to the EU.
An ambitious and sustainable EU legal migration policy is also an important component in successful partnerships. The EU Talent Pool proposed in the Skills and Talent package would create the first EU-wide platform and matching tool to help employers find the staff they need and make the EU more attractive for non-EU nationals looking for opportunities. An EU Talent Pool Pilot in an initial phase will help Ukrainians build on their skills and experience. Talent Partnerships with key partners will seek to boost international labour mobility and develop talent to the benefit of Member States, partner countries, and business communities on both sides, as well as for the individuals concerned.
Resettlement is an integral part of the New Pact and an important element of the EU migration policy. The EU contributes a sizeable part to global resettlement efforts and is committed to maintaining this commitment.
How is the EU supporting internally displaced persons in Afghanistan, and refugees from the country?
The EU Commission has been providing people of Afghanistan with humanitarian and basic needs assistance and the countries in the region with humanitarian and development assistance and resettlement.
By mid-2022, around 31,000 Afghans arrived safely in the EU through humanitarian admission, to help vulnerable people, women and girls in particular.
In that context, we are also addressing risks of irregular migration, fighting crimes such as migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings and ensuring the management of our borders.
The Commission supports these pledges for Afghans at risk through the Asylum and Migration and Integration Fund.
For these efforts to continue to be effective, there is a need for coordination at the global level and we continue engaging with international partners on this.
The EU has assumed a political and financial leadership role on regional displacement from Afghanistan, including through the Chairmanship of the Core Group of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees Support platform, through support to the over 5.9 million Afghans estimated to be internally displaced in Afghanistan, as well as to those displaced and their host communities in Iran and Pakistan.