April 27: European Commission
- Legal migration
As part of the comprehensive approach to migration set out in the Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission proposed legal, operational and policy initiatives that will benefit the EU’s economy, strengthen cooperation with non-EU countries and improve overall migration management in the long term.
The European Commission initiated a revision of both Long term resident and Single permit directives. The aim is to facilitate the access to long term resident status and to a labor permit while diminishing the red tape for both employers and working candidates and increasing the worker’s fundamental rights. Another initiative was to centralize the European labor needs on a single platform and to work more closely with third countries to streamline the right talents. The set of proposals also includes specific actions to facilitate integration of those fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into the EU’s labour market.
This proposal revives the debate on legal migration in Brussels.
- Visa Digitalisation
The Commission proposed the digitalisation of the Schengen visa process, replacing the visa sticker, and introducing the possibility to submit visa applications online through the European online visa platform. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum set the objective to fully digitalise visa procedures by 2025. It is an opportunity to effectively improve the visa application process by reducing the costs and the burden on Member States as well as the applicants, while also improving the security of the Schengen area.
April 26: European Court of Justice
- Judgment – Schengen Borders Code – NW-Joined cases C‑368/20 and C-369/20
This judgment comes in the context of the reintroduction by Austria of controls at its borders with Slovakia and Hungary post 2015 migration crisis.
The Court recalled that the Schengen Borders Code lays down the establishment of an area where persons may move freely, without internal borders. Accordingly, the reintroduction of internal border control must remain an exception and should only be effected as a measure of last resort.
By this judgment, the Court clarifies the conditions for such an exception to be retained, as follows. Where there is a serious threat to its public policy or internal security, a Member State may reintroduce border control at its borders with other Member States, but without exceeding a maximum total duration of six months. It is only in the event of a new serious threat arising that it can be justified to apply such a measure afresh.
April 11: European Parliament – LIBE Committee
- Exchange of view on the migratory situation in Cyprus
The exchange took place in the presence of Mr. Costas Constantinou, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Cyprus, Ms Beate Gminder, the Deputy Director-General in charge of the « Task Force Migration Management » Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, and Ms Sara Prestianni, Head of Thematic Programs Migration and Asylum of EuroMed Rights. The aim was to assess the current situation on the ground.
Since the beginning of 2022, more than 1,300 asylum seekers have entered the territory controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, while 19,000 asylum applications are still pending from last year. The reception centers on the island are overcrowded and people live in difficult conditions.
April 9: European Commission
- “Stand Up For Ukraine” Conference
The world conference “Stand up for Ukraine”, launched by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in partnership with Global Citizen, took place in Warsaw on April 9.
This global pledging event and campaign has raised €9.1 billion for people fleeing the Russian invasion, inside Ukraine and abroad, including €1 billion from the European Commission. On top of that, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced an additional €1 billion in loan to cover the needs of the people displaced by the invasion.
Out of these €10.1 billion in pledges and EBRD funding, €1.8 billion are for internally displaced persons and €8.3 billion for refugees in frontline EU Member States and countries, like Moldova.
April 7 : European Parliament
- LIBE Committee – Ukraine : Resolution for the protection of all children fleeing the war
MEPs called for children fleeing war in Ukraine to be given safe passage and for assistance for those internally displaced or unable to leave areas under siege.
With 509 votes to 3 and 47 abstentions, the European Parliament adopted on Thursday a resolution recalling various measures necessary to protect children and young people fleeing violence and facilitate their integration into host country communities. The recommendations include :
- child protection officers present at the borders to be able to swiftly identify vulnerable children, record their identity and nationality as well as their specific needs
- guardians appointed for unaccompanied and separated children and children in institutional care
- access to education and health services as other children in the host countries
- relocation mechanisms that prioritize family reunification and the relocation of vulnerable children
- REGI Committee – Resolution for an increased pre-financing from REACT-EU resources
On April 7, the European Parliament adopted by 549 votes to 1, with 8 abstentions, a legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 and Regulation (EU) No 223/2014, as regards increased pre-financing from REACT-EU resources and establishment of a unit cost.
For the implementation of operations addressing migratory challenges resulting from the military aggression by the Russian Federation, Member States may include in the expenditure declared in payment applications a unit cost linked to the basic needs and support of persons granted temporary protection or other adequate protection under national law.
That unit cost should be EUR 40 per week for each full week or partial week that the person is in the Member State concerned. The unit cost may be used for a maximum of 13 weeks in total, starting from the date of arrival of the person in the Union.
In addition to the initial pre-financing, the Commission will pay 4% of the REACT-EU resources allocated to programmes for the year 2021 as additional initial pre-financing in 2022. For programmes in Member States which have had a level of arrivals of persons from Ukraine greater than 1 % of their national population between 24 February 2022 and 23 March 2022, that percentage shall be increased to 34 %.
April 6: European Commission
- Recommendation – Ukraine : Recognition of professional qualifications
The Commission published a recommendation on the recognition of academic and professional qualifications for people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To support Member States in the quick, fair and flexible recognition of qualifications, the Commission has taken a number of actions, which are:
- The creation by the European Training Foundation of a resource hub on Ukrainian qualifications where information can be shared. Comprehensive information sharing and transparency between Member States will be key to enable fast track procedures.
- An adaptation of the eTranslation tool developed by the Commission, in order to facilitate dealing with the language barrier and to meet the demand for quick and reliable translation from Ukrainian. Translation from Russian is also possible and can be useful, given that many professionals in Ukraine obtained their diplomas in Russian.
- A flexible approach on how to assess recognition applications, including the option of reissuing diplomas in a digital format, because people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have been forced to leave without their original documentation of qualifications.
- ‘Golden passport’ schemes: Commission proceeds with infringement case against Malta
On April 6, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Malta (INFR(2020)2301) regarding its investor citizenship scheme, also referred to as ‘golden passport’ scheme. The Commission considers that the granting of EU citizenship in return for pre-determined payments or investments, without any genuine link to the Member State concerned, is in breach of EU law.
Malta has two months from that date to reply to the Commission’s reasoned opinion. If the reply is not satisfactory, the Commission may bring this matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
April 4 : Council of the European Union
- Ukraine – Redirection of EU funds to help refugees
The Council adopted legislative amendments making it possible for member states to redirect resources from European funds to assist the refugees escaping the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.
It concerns the regulation on Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) amending the 2014-2020 legal framework governing the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and the Fund for European Aid for the Most Deprived (FEAD).
In addition, the changes include exceptional flexibility to transfer resources between programmes financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) to address the inflow of refugees. For example, member states can use overall up to €9.5 billion under the 2022 tranche of REACT-EU, one of the largest post-pandemic EU public investment programmes, as well as unallocated cohesion policy resources under the 2014-2020 budgetary period.
CARE also extends by one accounting year the 100% financing from the EU budget for cohesion programmes. This will alleviate the burden on national and regional budgets due to the inflow of refugees from Ukraine.
The extension of the 100% financing, the unlocking of unprogrammed 2014-2020 cohesion funding, and the 2022 React-EU tranche are estimated to release almost €17 billion.
The Council also adopted an amendment to the 2014-2020 home affairs funds and to the 2021-2027 asylum, migration and integration fund. This amendment will provide extra resources for the reception of persons escaping the war in Ukraine.