Strasbourg, March 14 (TASR) – The war in Ukraine will also affect the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic told TASR during the plenary session of the conference on Friday and Saturday, which was attended by a 30-member delegation from Ukraine.
The Slovak commissioner noted in this regard that two weeks ago no one would have predicted that the March CoFoE plenary session would address testimonies regarding the bombardment of Ukrainian cities and that all EU institutions would make it their main priority to aid Ukraine and manage a massive wave of war refugees.
Sefcovic pointed to the fact that more than 2.2 million people had fled Ukraine by Friday, March 11, and the actual figure might be even higher, as not all children have biometric passports and valid papers.
One of the first tasks for the EU, according to Secovic, will be to figure out how to get the fleeing children into schools, medically examine them, help them have a normal childhood and aid them in overcoming the traumatic experiences from their home country.
“It will be a strain on our health and education systems, but so far, the hospitality and solidarity demonstrated especially by Ukraine’s neighbouring countries like Slovakia, for instance, is extremely well appreciated,” said Sefcovic.
In his opinion, the war in Ukraine will certainly influence the conclusions of the CoFoE. He admitted that after the war ends, he can’t imagine the future EU without Ukraine. Even at the EU summit in Versailles last week, he said, there were clear signals that Ukraine belongs to the European family. “We must do our utmost to help them into this family,” he stressed.
Asked whether the Union can handle millions of Ukrainians on its territory if the war lasts a long time, Sefcovic remarked that most Ukrainians want to return home as quickly as possible. However, many houses and apartments in their homeland have been destroyed, and while cities and infrastructure will be rebuilt, it’s quite possible that many Ukrainians will remain in the EU. He explained that the EU has no answers for this for the time being because the war is ongoing and getting worse. However, he expressed the hope that Europeans will continue to show solidarity and understand the need to integrate Ukrainians into society.