In the first year of Russia's war of aggression, sixteen million people from Ukraine and Moldova entered the European Union. Eleven million of them returned home, while almost four million applied for temporary protection in the EU. Almost one million people received visas and residence permits in other countries such as the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries, based in Brussels.

  • Follow I follow

This emerges from an interim balance sheet of the EU Commission. It also identifies shortcomings in the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive, which was first activated a week after the outbreak of war.

The majority of those displaced by war are women (47 percent) and children (34 percent). Two out of three children are younger than 13 years. The protection status is awarded on a flat-rate basis, an individual examination is not required. This will relieve the burden on Member States' asylum systems. In addition, those affected can choose their own country of residence. Around half live in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy and Spain. In terms of population, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic have taken in the most people. Part of the costs will be covered by the EU budget.

The EU Commission sees deficits in access to the education system. At the beginning of the school year, only half a million Ukrainian children attended school in their country of residence, the report said. Overall, however, about 1.3 million children were granted protection. Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas pointed out that it is not known how many children participate in online lessons in Ukrainian schools. The country has a largely digitized school system.

Access to social benefits varies widely. While a significant number of Member States treat displaced persons as their own citizens, others classify them as asylum seekers. To date, more than 1.1 million displaced persons have been integrated into the labour market. At least 400,000 people have been registered as jobseekers. The protection status is currently valid until March 2024.

The EU Commission was prepared to request an extension for another year if necessary. At the same time, she urged member states to ensure a "smooth transition to alternative residence statutes", for example by extending residence and work permits.