European Commission proposes temporary protection for people fleeing war in Ukraine

  • 2022-03-02
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The European Commission on Wednesday proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Under this proposal, those fleeing the war will be granted temporary protection in the European Union, meaning that they will be given a residence permit, and they will have access to education and to the labor market, spokespeople for the Commission said.

At the same time, the Commission also put forward operational guidelines intended to help member states' border guards in managing arrivals at the borders with Ukraine efficiently, while maintaining a high level of security. The guidelines also recommend that member states set up special emergency support lanes to channel humanitarian aid and recall the possibility of granting access to the EU on humanitarian grounds.

"Europe stands by those in need of protection. All those fleeing Putin's bombs are welcome in Europe.  We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home," President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.

Since Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, over 650,000 people have fled to neighboring EU member states. The Temporary Protection Directive was specifically conceived to give immediate protection to the persons who need it and to avoid overwhelming member states' asylum systems.

Under this proposal, Ukrainian nationals and people who have made Ukraine their home as well as their family members displaced by the conflict will be entitled to protection across the European Union. Non-Ukrainian nationals and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin, such as asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection and their family members, will also be granted protection in the EU. Others who are legally present in Ukraine for a short-term and are able to return safely to their country of origins will fall outside the scope of this protection. Nevertheless, they should be allowed access to the EU to transit prior to returning to their countries of origin.

It is for the Council to adopt the Temporary Protection proposal. The Council already expressed broad support for both measures at the extraordinary meeting of Sunday, Feb. 27 and has committed to discussing the two documents at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Thursday, March 3. Once adopted, temporary protection would start applying immediately and run for one year. This period is extended automatically by six monthly periods for a further year.