Refugees from Ukraine in Europe: European Commission’s initiatives


Following the military invasion by the Russian Federation on the Ukraine, that started on the 24 February 2022, almost 3.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine majority of them being women and children. While there have been an unprecedented mobilisation of support for Ukrainian refugees at the national level in all European countries, especially in the ones neighboring Ukraine (education trade unions being very active in this process), the European Commission also mobilised its programmes and policy tools to support Ukrainian children and teachers, and those of the hosting countries. It has set up an EU Education Solidarity Group for Ukraine (under the European Education Area cooperation framework) and has been publishing Statements, Recommendations and Policy Guidelines for Member States, adapting funding programmes, organising focus sessions with education stakeholders, and employing the School Education Gateway as a central hub to access information and resources about the Ukrainian education system and integration of Ukrainian refugees.

Following the Statement by President von der Leyen on further measures to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, published on the 3 March 2022 a Statement on Students, Young People, Education Community, demanding that ‘Ukrainian students abroad are offered support adjusted to their needs and their safety would be guaranteed’. The European Commission's Communication "Welcoming those fleeing war in Ukraine: Readying Europe to meet the needs" includes comprehensive chapters on access to education and access to jobs. Acting on the proposals outlined in the Communication, the European Commission published Policy guidance on supporting inclusion of Ukrainian refugees in education and a Recommendation on the recognition of academic and professional qualifications for people fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine which provides Member States' authorities with guidance and practical advice to ensure a quick, fair and flexible recognition process.

Following up on another promise - to help Member States to use EU funds quickly and flexibly – the European institutions have adapted various funding calls and programmes both for national governments and for individuals:

  • The European Commission has launched a special call under the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) to support Member States welcoming refugees from Ukraine and the phasing out of their reliance on fossil fuels from Russia;
  • On 4 April 2022, the Council of the EU adopted the CARE initiative, introducing “legislative amendments making it possible for member states to redirect resources from cohesion policy funds and the Fund for European Aid for the Most Deprived (FEAD) to assist the refugees escaping the Russian military aggression against Ukraine”;
  • The European Commission has made a decision to open Erasmus+ programme to pupils, VET learners, adult learners, teachers, trainers and other educational personnel from Ukraine. They will have an opportunity to spend a period at a hosting school, VET organisation or adult education organisation, or to complete a traineeship in EU Member States and third countries associated to the Erasmus+ Programme. Concretely, this means that Schools (including initial VET) and other organisations with ongoing Erasmus+ projects will be able to host Ukrainian teachers, other educational staff, pupils and learners and students to carry out teaching assignments, studies or traineeships. The newly opened activities will also be available for all Ukrainian teachers and other education staff, as well as pupils of school age (and initial vocational education and training) who were enrolled in an educational programme at the time of fleeing Ukraine. 
  • Any participants in the Erasmus+ programmes coming from the Ukrainian education system (pupils, VET learners, teachers and other educational staff) will have free access to the open access part of the new Online Language Support platform foreseen to be launched on 1 July 2022. This will grant them access to basic language training in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian at a beginner level.

Furthermore, the European Commission focused on providing information and resources about the Ukrainian education system and to inform refugees about their rights. The EU publications office has released a website a website in English, Ukrainian and Russian for refugees and published a practical leaflet with pictogrammes in Ukrainian and many European languages, that can help host families, teachers and students to communicate with Ukrainian refugees. The central hub of resources for integration of Ukrainian refugees in education is the School Education Gateway which has a dedicated page and regularly updates its articles. Some examples include:

Moreover, eTwinning platform which offers a space for educational staff to communicate, collaborate, and develop projects, is launching a new grassroots group to share and coordinate community-driven solidarity activities and emotional support for Ukrainian educational personnel. The platform also extended their featured group ‘Integrating Migrants and Refugees at School’ to strengthen teachers supporting refugees.

Last but not least, the European Commission is actively consulting experts and stakeholders in education involved in Working Groups of the European Education Area strategic framework, including the Working groups on Schools - Sub-group on Pathways to School Success, Early childhood education and care, Digital education: Learning, training and assessment, and Equality and values in education and training. The following focus sessions were organised for example in April:

  • Focus session on 'Teachers for refugee students', 4 April 2022
  • DG EAC online webinar “Online Training for Fast-track Recognition of Ukrainian Academic Qualifications”, 6 April 2022;
  • DELTA (Digital Education) Working Group ad-hoc meeting in response of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, which focused on exchanging current practices and needs in the provision of digital education solutions to support refugee Ukrainian pupils and students, 12 April 2022;
  • Webinar “Supporting the mental health and well-being of refugee children in school”, 22 April 2022;
  • ECEC Working Group meeting dedicated to ECEC staff: Recruiting Ukrainian staff in ECEC settings across Europe and Supporting ECEC staff across Europe to provide care and education to young refugee children, 22 April 2022;
  • Focus session, “Ukrainian refugee children not (yet) attending school in the host countries – outreach, support and coordination with Ukrainian curriculum", 25 April 2022;
  • Working Group on Equality and Values meeting on “Confronting some of the educational challenges in relation to the invasion of Ukraine” (focusing on how to talk to children about the war, media literacy and developing resilience to an on-line abuse and disinformation, history teaching – education about conflict and war, peace), 28 April 2022;
  • Webinar on welcoming refugees in schools (6 May 2022);
  • Webinar on teacher training for inclusion (13 May 2022);
  • Professional development course for teachers on the integration of newly arrived refugees (May 2022)
  • Professional development course for teachers on engaging non-native language speakers (June 2022);

Please find various materials provided by the European Commission during these sessions here.


Upcoming public webinar organised by the European Commission :

Welcoming newly arrived refugees in the classroom (