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 was the EU’s concrete response to this need.
However, the provisions within this Directive, based on solidarity between EU States, have not been triggered so far. In the discussions preceding the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, some Member States had highlighted the possible utility of the Temporary Protection Directive. The Proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of crisis and force majeure in the field of migration and asylum of 23 September 2020, proposes to repeal it.
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 risksing 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.