The European Union has introduced temporary protection for persons fleeing the war in Ukraine. What does it mean?
Temporary protection is an EU mechanism 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.
Temporary protection does not prejudge the possibility of granting refugee status within the meaning of the Geneva Convention.
What does temporary protection do?
The mechanism aims to allow displaced persons to enjoy harmonised rights across the EU. These rights include:
- access to the labour market and housing,
- medical assistance,
- access to education for children.
Persons seeking refuge from the war will enjoy temporary protection for a period of one year. That period may be automatically extended.
Who will be granted temporary protection?
The mechanism applies to Ukrainian nationals, as well as stateless persons and third country nationals benefiting from international protection in Ukraine, and their family members 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.
EU Member States may also apply the Council decision to other persons, including any third country nationals residing legally in Ukraine, 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.
Visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens
Ukrainian nationals, as visa-free travellers, have the right to move freely within the Union after being admitted into the territory for a 90-day period. On this basis, they are able to choose the Member State in which they want to enjoy the rights attached to temporary protection and to join their family and friends.
Temporary protection for persons fleeing the war in Ukraine has been introduced by the Council Decision of 4 March 2022. [Link to the decision: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dec_impl/2022/382/oj]
Minimum standards for granting temporary protection, including the obligations of EU Member States in relation to persons benefiting therefrom, are set out in Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 [link to Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2001/55/oj]
When providing temporary protection, the Commission Decision allows the Union to coordinate and closely monitor the reception capacity in Member States so as to take action and provide additional support as needed.