9 March 2022

EU institutions dealing with Russian aggression in Ukraine

*This page was last updated on 14 March.

This research looks into what the EU is doing in terms of providing resources on the ground, allowing philanthropy to target its support.

This summary consists of four chapters:

  • European Commission
  • European Parliament
  • European Council
  • Other sources

European Commission

“And our Union, for the first time ever, is using the European budget to purchase and deliver weapons to a country that is under attack. EUR 500 million from the European Peace Facility, to support Ukraine’s defence. As a first batch, we will match this by at least EUR 500 million from the EU budget to deal with the humanitarian consequences of this tragic war, both in the country and for the refugees.” – President von der Leyen

Borrell said the EU had agreed “to provide arms — lethal arms, lethal assistance — to the Ukrainian army for a value of [a] €450 million support package and €50 million more for the non-lethal supplies – [such as] fuel and protective equipment.”

EU humanitarian aid

The Commission announced an additional €90 million for emergency aid programmes to help civilians affected by the war in Ukraine, as part of an urgent aid appeal by the United Nations. The funding will help people in Ukraine and Moldova. This new EU humanitarian aid will provide food, water, health, shelter and help cover their basic needs.

The EU-funded humanitarian assistance is provided in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and is delivered through the UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Read more.

EU Civil Protection Mechanism

In response to the conflict escalation in February 2022, the European Commission is also coordinating the delivery of material assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to Ukraine. As of 1 March 2022, 25 states have offered support: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands – which includes 8 million essential medical care items and civil protection support. Important support under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been also offered to Moldova and Slovakia to support those forced to flee Ukraine.

On 4 March, the EU agreed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Everyone fleeing the conflict must be granted access to the EU. Under this Directive, those eligible will be granted temporary protection in the EU, meaning that they will be able to stay in the EU for at least one year and will be given a residence permit, and access to education and to the labour market.

Temporary protection means:

  • residency rights
  • access to the labour market subject to Member States’ labour market policies
  • access to housing
  • social welfare assistance
  • medical or other assistance
  • unaccompanied children and teenagers are entitled to legal guardianship and access to education

The Commission has also provided guidance on how to speed up crossings from Ukraine, with the necessary security checks stating “We will set up additional crossing points, waive customs duties and create special lanes to channel humanitarian aid.”

Read more.

Cohesion funding to support people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The Commission adopted on 8 March a proposal for Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) allowing Member States and regions to provide emergency support to people fleeing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. CARE is introducing the necessary flexibility in the 2014-2020 Cohesion policy rules to allow a swift reallocation of available funding to such emergency support. The 2022 envelope of €10 billion of the Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe (‘REACT-EU’) funds can also be used to address these new demands within the overall aim of post-pandemic recovery. Cohesion policy support will complement the support from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and other funding sources. The Commission is also proposing to prolong the implementation period for the money available to Member States under the 2014-2020 Home Affairs funds, which would release around €420 million in additional support.

CARE introduces four main changes to cohesion policy rules to maximise the speed and ease with which Member States can help people fleeing Ukraine, while continuing to support regions’ recovery:

  1. To ease national budgetary pressures, notably due to the extended impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the possibility of 100% EU co-financing for 2014-2020 Cohesion policy funding will be extended for the accounting year 2021-2022;
  2. Member States and regions will have the possibility to use resources from either the European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF) or the European Social Fund (ESF) for any type of measures to support people fleeing Ukraine. Thanks to this flexibility either fund will also be able to support projects even if these would normally be funded by the other one;
  3. Member State spending on all actions helping people fleeing Ukraine will be eligible for EU support retroactively as of the start date of the Russian invasion (24 February 2022);
  4. The reporting and the programme modifications will be simplified.

Next steps: The proposed amendments of the Common Provisions Regulation and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived Regulation require adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.

Read more.

Addressing disinformation

The Commission refers to its website aimed at fighting disinformation targeting Ukraine.

Macro-financial assistance

On 1 March 2022, the European Commission tabled a proposal for a new emergency macro-financial assistance (emergency MFA) programme for Ukraine of up to €1.2 billion. This proposal follows an earlier request from the Ukrainian authorities and direct discussions between Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

MFA funds will be made available to Ukraine in the form of long-term loans on highly favourable terms. They will contribute to enhancing Ukraine’s economic stability and overall resilience in the context created by the sharp increase in geopolitical uncertainty and its impact on the economic situation. A swift adoption of this proposal by the Council and the European Parliament will allow the Commission to immediately disburse a first tranche of €600 million to Ukraine. On 11 March 2022, the initial €300 million in emergency MFA has been disbursed to Ukraine. The second tranche will be disbursed following a positive assessment of progress made by the Ukrainian authorities with the implementation of a limited number of agreed short-term policy measures.

Ukraine – Ongoing hostilities (DG ECHO)

ERCC – Emergency Response Coordination Centre

Ukraine profile

  • Since 24 February, the Russian assault has shaped into a “full-scale invasion”. The situation is extremely volatile with shelling of urban areas.
  • The international community is extremely concerned about the significant violations of International Humanitarian Law. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, at least 352 civilians have been killed and over 2,040 wounded. Five days of fighting have brought significant damage to civilian infrastructure. Ukraine will inevitably face larger-scale humanitarian crisis.
  • Most of the humanitarian operations are temporarily suspended but partners are preparing for a large scale humanitarian emergency. First preliminary assessment indicates that the main needs will be access to water, health, non-food items, shelter and protection. The massive exodus of Ukrainians is continuing, according to UNHCR over 500,000 have left Ukraine; there is also a significant internal displacement.
  • On 28 February, the European Commission announced an additional EUR 90 million in humanitarian aid to help civilians affected by the war in Ukraine, the funding will also help those displaced to Moldova.

European Parliament

On 11 March 2022, the European Parliament launched a new website in cooperation with the Ukrainian Parliament. The website “The EU stands with Ukraine” provides the latest news, videos and podcasts, relevant legislation and resolutions to show how the EU is helping Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the European Parliament plenary in the debate on 28 February on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. EP President Roberta Metsola opened the debate at 12.30. President Zelenskyy and the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, then intervened remotely. MEPs then listened to the views of Council and Commission Presidents, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, as well as the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, before they gave their own assessment of the Russian attacks. The meeting was closed with the adoption of a motion for a resolution to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure on the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The abovementioned motion for a resolution can be summarised as follows:

  • MEPs demand progress to grant Ukraine EU candidate status
  • EU should restrict imports of the most important Russian export goods, such as oil and gas
  • Sanctions must strategically weaken the Russian economy and industry
  • Provide Ukraine with defensive weapons more swiftly
  • SWIFT ban should be extended to Belarus

During the debates, some MEPs advocated for acknowledging Ukraine’s European aspirations and fight for freedom by stepping up the EU’s work to grant the country EU candidate status. Others highlighted the importance of jointly addressing the repercussions that the sanctions on Russia will have on a European economy still recovering from a global pandemic, by way of ensuring support for countries most affected as well as for businesses and citizens. Finally, some pointed to the need to welcome Ukrainians fleeing war and to all EU countries sharing that responsibility.

In other news:

European Council

Ukraine: Council unanimously introduces temporary protection for persons fleeing the war

The Council adopted on 4 March 2022 unanimously an implementing decision introducing temporary protection due to the mass influx of persons fleeing Ukraine as a consequence of the war.

Temporary protection is an emergency mechanism which can be applied in cases of mass influx of displaced persons, and which aims to provide an immediate and collective (i.e. without the need for the examination of individual applications) protection to displaced persons who are not in a position to return to their country of origin. The objective is to alleviate pressure on national asylum systems and to allow displaced persons to enjoy harmonised rights across the EU. These rights include residence, access to the labour market and housing, medical assistance, and access to education for children.

Read more.

EU imposes sanctions on state-owned outlets RT/Russia Today and Sputnik’s broadcasting in the EU

This decision to suspend the broadcasting activities of Sputnik’ and RT/Russia Today complements the package of measures announced by the High Representative after the video conference of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers of 27 February. The package also includes the provision of equipment and supplies to the Ukrainian Armed Forces through the European Peace Facility, a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Russian carriers of all kinds, a ban on the transactions with the Russian Central Bank, and the SWIFT ban for certain Russian banks.

An infographic of the EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine can be accessed here. The statement regarding the outcomes of the 10 March Versailles meeting can be accessed here.

23.02.2022 Council decision

Other sources

EUvsDisinfo: https://euvsdisinfo.eu/category/ukraine-page/

Joint IMF – World Bank statement: https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2022/03/01/pr2252-joint-imf-world-bank-group-statement-on-the-war-in-ukraine

United Nations emergency special session (28.02–02.03.2022): https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/ga12406.doc.htm

Council of Europe statement: https://www.coe.int/en/web/moscow/-/bureau-of-the-council-of-europe-congress-adopts-a-declaration-on-the-situation-in-ukraine

UNHCR in Ukraine: https://www.unhcr.org/ua/en

FATF: https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/fatfgeneral/documents/ukraine-2022.html#:~:text=The%20FATF%20reiterates,legitimate%20humanitarian%20activities.%C2%A0

ICC: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=2022-prosecutor-statement-referrals-ukraine


Hanna Hanses
Policy Manager