The European Commission (EC) adopted the FAST-CARE package to help EU countries

The European Commission (EC) adopted the FAST-CARE package to help EU countries

The European Commission (EC) adopted on June 29 the “Flexible Assistance to Territories (FAST-CARE)” package to help EU countries, regional and local authorities and partners to address the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the EC said.

The package introduces three changes to the 2014-2020 and 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy legislation to further speed up and simplify EU countries support to the integration of third country nationals, while continuing to help regions’ recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Commission said.

The EC announced more support for those welcoming displaced people – member states, local authorities and civil society organisations.

The pre-financing payments are increased by an additional 3.5 billion euro to be paid in 2022 and 2023, which will provide rapid additional liquidity to all member states, the EC said. This comes on top of the 3.5 billion euro of pre-financing payments already made under REACT-EU since March 2022.

The possibility of 100 per cent co-financing by the EU under the 2014-2020 period is now extended to measures promoting the socio-economic integration of third country, meaning non-EU, nationals. This possibility is also extended to 2021-2027 programmes, to be reviewed by mid-2024.

Member states may increase the amount of the simplified unit cost to cover the basic needs of refugees from 40 euro introduced by CARE, to 100 euro per week per person. They may claim these costs for a period of up to 26 weeks, from the current 13 weeks. This enables further simplifying the use of the funds for displaced people, the Commission said.

The cross-financing possibility already granted under CARE between the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund (ESF) will be extended to the Cohesion Fund. This means that the Cohesion Fund may now also mobilise resources to address the consequences of the migratory challenges, the EC said.

At least 30 per cent of the resources mobilised by the flexibilities provided should be granted to operations managed by local authorities and civil society organisations operating in local communities so that those bearing the brunt of the efforts receive adequate support.

Expenditure of operations addressing migratory challenges may now be declared retroactively for reimbursement, even when the operation has already been completed.

Programmes may support operations outside the programme’s geographical scope, but within the member state. This will allow channelling support where it is most needed as refugees often move within member states.

Projects above a million euro (for example, in the construction sector), supported under the 2014-2020 programmes but which could not be completed in time due to price increases, shortages of raw material and labour force, may continue to be supported under 2021-2027 programmes.

The EC said that the package creates more flexibility for member states at closure of programmes to maximise the amount of the funds they can get even when the implementation has been delayed.

The proposed amendments to the 2014-2020 Common Provisions Regulation and to the 2021-2027 Common Provisions Regulation require adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

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