Temporary protection is an exceptional measure to provide immediate and temporary protection in the event of a mass influx or imminent mass influx of displaced persons from non-EU countries who are unable to return to their country of origin. The 2001 Temporary Protection Directive provides a tool for the EU to address such situations.
It applies when the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, decides that there is a mass influx, in particular if entailing a risk that the standard asylum system is struggling to cope with demand stemming from the arrivals of displaced persons risking a negative impact on the efficient operation of the asylum system.
Activation of the Temporary Protection Directive
The Temporary Protection Directive, which was adopted following the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, was triggered for the first time by the Council in response to the unprecedented Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Since 24 February 2022, Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine has created a situation of mass arrivals of displaced people from Ukraine unable to return to their homes. Due to the scale of estimated arrivals, the European Commission identified a clear risk that the asylum systems of EU countries would be unable to process applications within the deadlines set. This would negatively affect the efficiency of national asylum processes and adversely affect the rights of people applying for international protection.
Following the call of the home affairs ministers, on 2 March 2022, the Commission rapidly proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive. On 4 March 2022, the Council unanimously adopted the Decision giving those fleeing war in Ukraine the right to temporary protection.
Obligations of EU countries towards persons enjoying temporary protection
The Temporary Protection Directive defines the decision-making procedure needed to trigger, extend or end temporary protection.
It also lists the rights for beneficiaries of temporary protection:
- a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection (which can last from one year to three years)
- appropriate information on temporary protection
- guarantees for access to the asylum procedure
- access to employment, subject to rules applicable to the profession and to national labour market policies and general conditions of employment
- access to suitable accommodation or housing
- access to social welfare or means of subsistence if necessary
- access to medical care
- access to education for persons under 18 years to the state education system
- opportunities for families to reunite in certain circumstances
- access to banking services, for instance opening a basic bank account
- move to another EU country, before the issuance of a residence permit
- move freely in EU countries (other than the Member State of residence) for 90 days within a 180-day period after a residence permit in the host EU country is issued
The Directive also contains provisions for the return after temporary protection has ended 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).
Guidelines on the use of the Temporary Protection Directive
To better explain and clarify the provisions of the Directive and the Council implementing Decision in the context of granting temporary protection to people fleeing the war in Ukraine, on 21 March 2022 the Commission issued Operational guidelines.
The guidelines are not a legally binding document. Their purpose is to help the EU Member States in implementing the Directive and the Council implementing Decision. For example, the guidelines are about:
- who is and who is not eligible for temporary protection
- what to do, if people present outdated identification documents
- how to proceed with the registration of unaccompanied minors
- how to assist with the repatriation of third country nationals who are not eligible for temporary protection
The Commission also created and regularly updates a webpage to provide those fleeing the war in Ukraine with practical information on their rights in the EU.
Improving the Directive: Pact on Migration and Asylum
As part of the Pact on migration and asylum, on 23 September 2020, the Commission issued a Proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of crisis and force majeure in the field of migration and asylum.
The proposal foresees:
- a new European architecture to address such situations;
- 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.
- Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC)
- Council implementing Decision to activate the Temporary Protection Directive for people fleeing the war in Ukraine of 4 March 2022
- Commission Operational guidelines for the implementation of Council implementing Decision of 21 March 2022
- Proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of crisis and force majeure in the field of migration and asylum
- EU solidarity with Ukraine
- Information for people fleeing the war in Ukraine
- Commission Communication 'Welcoming those fleeing war in Ukraine: Readying Europe to meet the needs