According to the EU Commission, such a thing was possible thanks to the close cooperation of the EU Member States.
The Commission published a report that looks into the EU rules on consular protection. The consular protection gives the right to citizens of the EU to stay or travel abroad to seek consular assistance from any other Member States in case their own country is not represented there.
The report has found that while the EU cooperation was successful during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Afghanistan crisis as well as Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, improvements are needed to ensure that the rules of the EU are better fit for crises.
Commenting on the repatriations, the High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, said that the EU Delegations play a crucial role alongside the embassies and consulates of Member States in providing consular assistance.
“Consular protection demonstrates to our citizens the benefits of our EU external action: during the COVID-19 pandemic or since Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine was unleashed, the EU and its Member States worked hand in hand to assist our citizens and bring them home,” the statement of Borrell reads.
The Commission explains that the support of EU Delegations was essential, especially in countries where only a few of no Member States were represented. In addition, it was noted that there is a need to streamline the current rules in order to facilitate the provision of consular protection.
According to the Commission, this could be done by improving information exchange between the Member States and communication coordination. In addition, it was emphasised that this also includes clarifying the situation of vulnerable people, such as unaccompanied people with disabilities and pregnant women.
“EU rules on consular protection gave a lifeline to our citizens in times of need and showed a true solidarity among EU Member States. This report takes stock of major recent events relevant and suggests a number of measures to further facilitate and strengthen the exercise of EU citizenship rights” Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders added.
In addition, while the primary obligation for providing consular protection remains with the Member States, the report noted that empowering EU Delegations to interact more directly with citizens of the EU in some cases.