Brussels, 7 March 2022
On 4 March 2022, the EU Council has unanimously introduced “temporary protection” for persons fleeing the war to give shelter to Ukrainians. But the implementation seems to be much more difficult – particularly on the ground, in the villages and municipalities. There, the new instrument is hardly known – which may complicate the bureaucracy involved. We have, therefore, decided to put together this report to give an initial orientation and smooth implementation. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if we forgot something – or got something wrong.
Ukraine: Council unanimously introduces temporary protection for persons fleeing the war
The Council today adopted unanimously an implementing decision introducing temporary protection due to the mass influx of persons fleeing Ukraine as a consequence of the war.
Temporary protection is an emergency mechanism which can be applied in cases of mass influx of persons and which aims to provide an immediate and collective (i.e. without the need for the examination of individual applications) protection to displaced persons who are not in a position to return to their country of origin. The objective is to alleviate pressure on national asylum systems and to allow displaced persons to enjoy harmonised rights across the EU. These rights include residence, access to the labour market and housing, medical assistance, and access to education for children.
Once adopted, the decision will activate temporary protection for an initial period of one year. That period may be extended automatically by six monthly periods for a maximum of one year. The Commission may propose to the Council to extend the temporary protection up to one more year. It may also propose to end the temporary protection if the situation in Ukraine is such as to permit safe and durable return.
Ukrainian nationals, as well as third country nationals or stateless persons benefiting from international protection in Ukraine and their family members will benefit from temporary protection if they resided in Ukraine before or on 24 February 2022. For third country nationals residing in Ukraine before or on 24 February with a permanent residence permit and who cannot safely return to their country member states shall apply either temporary protection or adequate protection under their national law.
Member states may also apply this decision to other persons, including any third country nationals residing legally in Ukraine and who are unable to safely return to their country of origin, as well as Ukrainians who fled not long before 24 February or who found themselves in EU territory just before that date, for example for holiday or work purposes.
As part of this decision, the Commission will coordinate cooperation and exchange of information among member states, in particular in relation to monitoring reception capacities and identifying any need for additional support. EU agencies, including Frontex, the EU asylum agency and Europol can provide further operational support at the request of member states.
On 24 February 2022, Russian armed forces launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. As a result, substantial areas of Ukrainian territory now constitute areas of armed conflict from which thousands of persons are fleeing. On that same day, the European Council condemned Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms and demanded Russia’s full respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.
The EU has shown, and will continue to show, its resolute support for Ukraine and its citizens. At their extraordinary meeting on 27 February, home affairs ministers discussed the possibility of establishing an appropriate temporary protection mechanism for the reception of persons seeking refuge in the EU. On 2 March, the Commission proposed activating the mechanism provided for by the 2001 directive on temporary protection.
- Council implementing decision establishing the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine and introducing temporary protection
Temporary protection: Background and current developments
During the 1990s, conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in Kosovo and elsewhere demonstrated the need for special procedures to deal with mass influxes of displaced persons. The 2001 Temporary Protection Directive provides a tool for the EU to address such situations.
The provisions within this Directive, based on solidarity between EU Member States, have been triggered for the first time to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Since 24 February 2022, the Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine created a situation of mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine unable to return to their country or region of origin. The scale of the influx is estimated to create a clear risk that the Member States’ asylum systems will be unable to process the arrivals without adverse effects on their efficient operation and on the interests of the persons concerned and on those of other persons requesting protection.
Following the call of the home affairs ministers, on 27 February 2022, the Commission rapidly proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive.
On 4 March 2022, the Council adopted unanimously the implementing decision introducing temporary protection due to mass influx of persons fleeing Ukraine as a consequence of the war.
In the discussions preceding the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, the possible utility of the Temporary Protection Directive was highlighted. The Proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of crisis and force majeure in the field of migration and asylum of 23 September 2020, that foresees a new European architecture to address such situations, also provides for an updated tool for managing the situations of displaced persons from third countries who are facing a high degree of risk of being subject to indiscriminate violence, in exceptional situations of armed conflicts.
What is temporary protection?
Temporary protection is an exceptional measure to provide immediate and temporary protection to displaced persons from non-EU countries and those unable to return to their country of origin.
It applies when there is a risk that the standard asylum system is struggling to cope with demand stemming from a mass influx risking a negative impact on the processing of claims.
Why define EU standards on temporary protection?
The reasoning behind minimum standards at EU level on this issue is twofold. First, it reduces disparities between the policies of EU States on the reception and treatment of displaced persons in a situation of mass influx. Second, it promotes solidarity and burden-sharing among EU States with respect to receiving large numbers of potential refugees at one time.
National obligations towards persons enjoying temporary protection
The Temporary Protection Directive defines the decision-making procedure needed to trigger, extend or end temporary protection.
It foresees harmonised rights for the beneficiaries of temporary protection, including:
- a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection (which can last from one year to three years),
- appropriate information on temporary protection,
- access to employment,
- access to accommodation or housing,
- access to social welfare or means of subsistence,
- access to medical treatment,
- access to education for minors,
- opportunities for families to reunite in certain circumstances, and
- guarantees for access to the normal asylum procedure.
The Directive also contains provisions for the return of displaced persons to their country of origin and for excluding individuals, who have committed serious crimes or, who pose a threat to security from the benefit of temporary protection.
Specific provisions have been drawn up for unaccompanied minors and for those having undergone particularly traumatic experiences (such as rape, physical or psychological violence).
Solidarity between EU States
Solidarity and a balance between EU States in receiving displaced persons is promoted through a structured mechanism. It allows for transfers of beneficiaries between EU States, based on a voluntary offerfrom a State and on the consent of the transferee.
Evaluation of the Temporary Protection Directive
- Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC).
- Temporary Protection Proposal.
- Study on the Temporary Protection Directive, final report.
- Study on the Temporary Protection Directive, executive summary
- Proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of crisis and force majeure in the field of migration and asylum
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