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Poland and Germany Asking for European Funds to Welcome Ukrainian Refugees by Hélène de Lauzun

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Poland and Germany Asking for European Funds to Welcome Ukrainian Refugees

As the steady stream of refugees from Ukraine continues to pour into neighbouring countries, Poland and Germany have asked the European Union for financial support to meet the additional costs of hosting people fleeing the war with Russia.

On Wednesday, March 30th, the Interior ministers of the two countries asked the European Union to provide aid amounting to €1,000 per month per refugee, as the reception of the Ukrainian population far exceeds the reception capacities of the countries concerned. In Germany, the German Länder is hoping to add €1,000 from the EU to the €1,000 it has already asked for from the German federal government. 

Poland estimates that the cost of receiving the refugees is already around €2.2 billion. The country bordering Ukraine has taken in the most refugees since the conflict began—2.6 million according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as of April 11th, 2022. Germany has taken in around 270,000 refugees.

Germany and Poland are also asking European institutions to become more involved in the distribution of refugees among the different countries of the Union. A ten-point plan is currently being discussed, which would take into account transport issues as well as child protection problems. For the time being, Brussels has opposed the creation of any new financial mechanisms, preferring instead to redistribute funds already available. The Polish Prime Minister pointed out that the European Union had supported Turkey to the tune of €6 billion to welcome Syrian refugees in 2015-2016 at the time of the war in Syria, and considers it logical that the same effort should be made to Poland, which for the moment is bearing the brunt of the reception of Ukrainian refugees from its own funds.

This willingness to collaborate is part of a rapprochement between Poland and Germany after a period of rather tense relations. Visiting Warsaw on Tuesday, April 12th, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda that there would be no “return to normal” with Russia and acknowledged to the Poles the mistake that had been the Nord Stream 2 project. Steinmeier added that “Germany and Poland [now] stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with Ukraine” and praised Polish aid to refugees as “generous and well organised.” His trip to the east is to continue with a meeting with the presidents of the three Baltic states.

On Tuesday, April 12th, Duda reaffirmed his opposition to the forced distribution of Ukrainians to potential host countries. He believes that refugees should “have the right to choose the place where they want to find shelter.” The discussions have not yet been concluded.

Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).