Poland Wants Billions From Brussels to Support Ukrainian Refugees

© AP Photo / Czarek SokolowskiPeople hold tied Polish, right, and Ukrainian flags during a demonstration supporting the opposition movement in Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014
People hold tied Polish, right, and Ukrainian flags during a demonstration supporting the opposition movement in Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.05.2022
Over 3.6 million Ukrainians, equivalent to nearly 10 percent of Ukraine’s population, have fled to Poland in recent months, with millions more making their way to Russia, Romania, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, the Czech Republic, and other nations to escape the crisis in their home country.
Poland will need billions of additional euros from the European Union to help support the millions of Ukrainian refugees in the country, Deputy Minister of the Interior Pawel Szefernaker has indicated.

“From the very start we said that the aid we provide costs in the billions, not millions of euros. The European Union’s aid for countries which help refugees should also be counted in the billions – just as it was in the case of Turkey or Greece between 2015-2016”, Szefernaker said, speaking to the Polish Press Agency (PAP) on Saturday.

The official, who is tasked with coordinating Poland’s response to the refugee crisis, complained that the European Commission has yet to transfer any funds to assist the Polish government via its Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe (REACT-EU) programme. The fund was topped up with 3.4 billion euros to help members absorb Ukrainian refugees in April by the European Parliament, and is expected to be allocated to EU countries bordering Ukraine, as well as those whose refugee intake is greater than one percent of their total population.
PAP says Warsaw is expected to receive a 144.6 million euro payout from a 400 million euro tranche of funding allocated to five countries, including Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic for refugee assistance. However, even that money has not yet been delivered, with an EC spokesperson saying the European Commission will discuss subsidy agreements with Warsaw “in the coming weeks.”
Szefernaker suggested a separate, new fund needs to be established by the EU to deal with the financial burden. “The measures referred to by the European Commission are not additional measures. These are resources shifted from various other funds that were already in the European Union’s budget”, he said.
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The official noted that 95 percent of the remaining funds given to Poland by Brussels were committed to various other investments, and could not be redirected to help refugees.
Over 42 billion euros were earmarked for Poland from the bloc’s REACT cash pile last year, but was frozen over the Polish government’s intransigence on “LGBT-free” zones – municipalities where LGBT "propaganda" marches and other events are banned.
Poland has long been a net beneficiary when it comes to contributions to the EU budget, getting billions more euros than it pays into the bloc, which is funded mainly by Germany, France, Italy, and, until 2020, Britain.
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Poland spent years battling Brussels in the mid-late 2010s over EU demands that the country take in refugees from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries turned into failed states by US and NATO interventions, with the European Commission finally dropping its “refugee quotas” initiative in 2020 amid Polish, Hungarian, and Czech intransigence.
When the Ukraine crisis exploded in February, Warsaw rushed to accept millions of Ukrainians with open arms, on top of millions more already working and living in the country. Since the 2014 Euromaidan coup, over two million Ukrainians have taken up roles in sectors of the Polish economy, ranging from construction and agriculture to logistics and housework, with Polish businessmen valuing them as a source of cheap but skilled labour.
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