The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has caused a massive wave of refugees, with nearly 8 million people fleeing the country since Russia’s invasion in February. This is the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, with the majority of those displaced now residing in the European Union.
The goal is to create conditions for these individuals to return home once the war ends and reconstruction begins. However, it is possible that many refugees may remain in their host countries for an extended period of time. With the right policies in place, this could be a positive for these host nations, particularly in light of labor shortages and aging populations. The EU has shown swift and decisive support for these refugees, with 4.8 million people from Ukraine registered for temporary protection in the EU or in similar national programs.
The EU has also removed many barriers refugees typically face by offering residency rights, work permits, and access to vital services such as healthcare, education, housing, and banking. Additionally, the EU is providing financing to support refugees from Ukraine in the most affected member states, including Moldova and other countries, and has modified regulations to make it simpler to reorient existing funds to support these individuals.
The World Economic Forum in Davos – WEF report, released in partnership with web-based research firm Qualtrics, revealed that a global majority of respondents (57%) believe that immigrants in Europe are “mostly good” for their adopted country. However, there were significant regional variations in this opinion. The most welcoming regions to immigration were North America (66%) and South Asia (72%), with large percentages of respondents stating that immigrants were “mostly good” for their country.
In contrast, only 40% of Eastern Europeans and 46% of Western Europeans held the same opinion. The report also found that South Asia had the highest percentage of respondents (94%) who believed their country had a responsibility to help other countries. Overall, the report debunks the negative image of immigrants that has been perpetuated by many media outlets around the world.
The European Union’s (EU) pact on migration and asylum has been a contentious issue, with ongoing debates over solidarity, responsibility sharing, and the formal allocation of asylum seekers among member states. Despite some progress, such as the adoption of Council negotiating mandates and the endorsement of a voluntary solidarity mechanism, divisions have prevented the conclusion of negotiations on many legislative proposals. In September 2022, a roadmap was presented with the goal to conclude negotiations by February 2024 before the end of the parliamentary term. Regular meetings between Presidencies and the Parliament’s Asylum Contact Group have been established to monitor progress and support the process.
The incoming Swedish EU Presidency plans to work on advancing the pact but does not expect it to be finalized before spring 2024. The outcome of an extraordinary European summit in February 2023, dedicated to discussing migration issues and steps towards finalizing the pact, will be crucial to meet the set 2024 objective. Despite some progress, divisions have prevented the conclusion of negotiations on many legislative proposals. The outcome of the extraordinary European summit in February 2023, dedicated to discussing migration issues and steps towards finalizing the pact, as well as the World Economic Forum in Davos, will be crucial to meet the set 2024 objective.