The invasion of Ukraine and its social impact on the EU after two years

Employment and Social Affairs

Estimated time of reading: ~ 2 minutes

A recent survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) showed that a majority of European citizens share a pessimistic view over the conflict in Ukraine and do not believe that Kiev is going to obtain a victory on the field in the conflict against the invading Russian troops. This does not mean that people in Europe have ceased to support Ukraine, as after two years of war, a lot of efforts and money have already been spent, and the total amount of political and social capital mobilized by European countries for Kiev is obviously paramount with respect to other security crises in the recent past. 

Migration is another major issue in this context. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of people in the country to leave their homes and seek refuge in the EU and neighboring countries, such as Moldova. As of November 2023, the EU Council registered at least 4.2 million people from Ukraine who benefited from the temporary protection mechanism activated by the EU. After two years of emergency, the situation has changed, but at the same time, refugees from Ukraine have increased the migration pressure on different countries that have already suffered from a growing flow of people arriving from poorer countries in the Mediterranean area and beyond.

Such a dynamic also created political troubles and social discontent among parts of the EU population. This kind of “forced solidarity” has been a source of instability for countries like Poland, which received the largest number of Ukrainian refugees and at the same time saw protests by workers in the agriculture sector that demanded an end to the imports of Ukrainian grains. Farmers in Poland blocked border crossings with Ukraine, and even Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk stated that he could not rule out widening the national ban on imports of Ukrainian grains to other products if the European Union does not act to protect the markets in the member countries. Warsaw presented itself as a staunch ally of Ukraine in the last two years, but these kinds of frictions with Kiev project a negative narrative over prolonged sustainment for the invaded nation, as well as how this approach may echo to other neighboring countries and their citizens.

Written by: Francesco Marino

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