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EU official: Ukrainian refugees help European labor shortages

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 18, 2023 3:50 PM 2 min read
Refugees from Ukraine stand on a platform at the Messebahnhof Laatzen station in Laatzen, Germany after their arrival on April 15, 2023. (Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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The arrival of Ukrainian refugees into the European Union has had a positive effect on the European labor market, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit said in an interview with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on Oct. 17.  

According to the latest EU figures, 1.87 million Ukrainians in 19 European countries have signed an employment contract.

In the 11 EU member states that are part of Central and Eastern Europe (known as CEE countries), over 60% of Ukrainians who registered as job seekers found employment, Schmit said.

"This has had a certain impact on improving the labor shortage situation in many European labor markets," said Schmidt.

Ukrainians can work in the EU due to the bloc's Temporary Protection Directive, which entitles Ukrainians who fled the Russian invasion to access shelter, healthcare, education, and employment.

The protection lasts until March 2025, having been extended since March 4, 2022, when the EU first implemented the measure. The protection cannot be extended for more than three years.

However, Schmit said he also understands that the Ukrainian government wants its citizens who are currently in the EU to return to rebuild the country as soon as the war is over.

"These people are needed" to contribute to Ukraine's economy and rebuilding, which will help its accession to the EU, he said.

However, if Ukrainians want to stay and work in Europe, they should be allowed to do so, though no decision has yet been made on a framework for this, he added.

According to Ukraine's Center for Economic Strategy (CES), 63% of Ukrainians currently residing abroad plan to return to their country, yet the conditions and time frame for the return remain unclear.

The center estimates that 5.6 million and 6.7 million Ukrainians were living abroad at the end of June 2023. Most of them, an estimated 4.8 million, live in EU member states or in the U.K.

As their kids find refuge abroad, Ukrainian fathers struggle with separation
For the past several weeks, Serhii Samoilenko has been savoring every second of his life. The 38-year-old has not felt as happy as he is now ever since the start of the full-scale invasion. In August, he finally reunited with his two little daughters, whom he hadn’t seen for over
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