Following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the EU responded rapidly and showed solidarity in action by helping people in need. This included direct humanitarian aid, emergency civil protection assistance, support at the border, as well as granting protection to those fleeing the war and entering the EU.
For the first time in its history, the European Union activated the Temporary Protection Directive setting the legal rules to help manage the mass arrival of people. In parallel, the European Commission quickly began to coordinate with EU countries to gather information about the situation on the ground and to prevent trafficking in human beings.
DG HOME coordinates the Solidarity Platform, which brings together EU countries, international partners, and EU agencies to ensure the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive. The EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint collects important information, such as the arrivals of refugees, to properly stir migration management response.
Drawing from past experience in managing migration, it soon became clear that EU countries would not have appropriate capacity to process asylum applications lodged by the high number of people fleeing the war.
That is why on 2 March 2022, the Commission proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive, which was then adopted by the European Council on 4 March 2022 through the Decision to grant those fleeing the war in Ukraine temporary protection.
People who are eligible have the right to temporary protection for a period of one year. If war persists, there are possibilities to extend temporary protection for an additional two years. Beneficiaries of temporary protection have the right to:
- access to housing
- social welfare assistance
- medical care
- legal guardianship and safe placement for unaccompanied children and teenagers
- access to education for children and teenagers
- access to the labour market (subject to EU countries’ labour market policies)
- 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
To explain the provisions of the Temporary Protection 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 but address the practical aspects to help EU countries in implementing the Directive and the Council implementing Decision.
Practical information for people fleeing the war and arriving to the EU
Soon after the war broke out, the Commission centralised all the key information for those fleeing the war on the information webpage. There, people can find practical information in English, Ukrainian and Russian about their rights concerning:
- temporary protection
- travel within the EU
- access to housing, health care, education and jobs
People can also find the hotlines and the contact points of national authorities and practical information about the key organisations in the EU helping those fleeing the war.
The webpage: Information for people fleeing the war in Ukraine
The Solidarity Platform has been set up to ensure the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive in close collaboration with all parties. Its role is to monitor the needs identified in EU countries and coordinate the operational response. The Solidarity Platform also provides a general forum for discussion to support the implementation of the 10-Point plan presented by the Commission after the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council of 28 March.
The Solidarity Platform, coordinated by DG HOME, brings together:
- EU countries
- Schengen Associated States
- EU Agencies (in particular, EU Agency for Asylum, Frontex and Europol)
- IOM, UNHCR and other partners
The Platform meets on a weekly basis alongside the Council’s Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) as well as the EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Management Network (the Blueprint).
Objectives and actions of the Solidarity Platform
- provide a general forum for discussion to support the implementation of the 10-Point plan for a stronger coordination on welcoming the people fleeing the war in Ukraine
- collect relevant information on reception and accommodation capacity in EU countries
- coordinate matching offers from EU countries to accept people fleeing war in Ukraine who have already arrived in the EU
- coordinate the transfer of persons between EU countries
- facilitate and make use of relevant EU instruments
Since its establishment on 4 March 2022 with the Council Implementing Decision, the Solidarity Platform achieved concrete results in managing migration across several actions.
Bordering Ukraine, Moldova has received one of the largest shares of people fleeing the war. As a first concrete step, the Solidarity Platform is coordinating the transfers of refugees from Ukraine in Moldova to EU countries and Schengen Associated countries who pledged to welcome them. This is helping to reduce the pressure on reception capacities in Moldova and to avoid further congestion of reception capacities in EU countries bordering Ukraine.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ten EU countries (Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and the Netherlands) and Schengen Associated Countries (Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein) have agreed to transfer nearly 20 000 people from Moldova.
To facilitate the process of transfers from Moldova, the Commission has developed standard operating procedures, including specific procedures for children in cooperation with EU countries, UNHCR, IOM and EU Agencies. These were endorsed by the Solidarity Platform on 24 March, and have been revised to include as well another option in the procedures with a stop-over in Romania.
The EU Air Transfers are free transportation by plane directly from Moldova to selected EU countries, organised in collaboration with UNHCR, IOM and EU Member States and the Republic of Moldova.
The Solidarity Platform is working on an EU-level coordinated approach on the transport and information hubs that countries put in place along displacement routes:
- border crossings
- bus and train stations
- large transit accommodation centres
The goal is to provide an overview of all the hubs to facilitate their interconnectivity and match the transport offers with the reception capacity in EU countries, and improve the information provision to displaced people from Ukraine in line with 10-Point Plan for a stronger European coordination on welcoming people fleeing the war against Ukraine.
The Commission is in close dialogue with its international partners, including the US, Canada, and the UK. The aim is to:
- exchange information on initiatives to provide protection to displaced persons fleeing Ukraine
- assist countries facing most arrivals, including concrete support measures and offers of solidarity cooperation
- coordinate global protection efforts
The Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission has coordinated the EU response to resulting migratory movement through the EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint.
The Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint provides an operational framework to ensure:
- situational awareness and better preparedness,
- effective governance and timely response.
The Blueprint has been actively involved in gathering and reporting latest developments with EU Member States and Agencies. Information is collected and disseminated for better management of migration.
To help border guards of EU countries manage arrivals at the borders with Ukraine efficiently, while reducing the waiting time, but still maintaining a high level of security, on 2 March 2022 the Commission issued guidelines on external border management. The guidelines include provisions on:
- simplification of border controls at the EU's borders with Ukraine
- flexibility regarding entry conditions
- allowing crossings at temporary border crossing points, outside official border crossing points
- easy access for rescue services and humanitarian assistance
- personal belongings and pets
The guidelines strongly recommend EU countries to make use of the support of EU Agencies – with Frontex able to assist with the identification and registration of the people arriving, and Europol available to deploy officers supporting EU countries with secondary checks.
EU Agencies playing a key role on the ground
EU Agencies play a key role in assisting EU countries on the ground with border management, information-sharing, asylum registrations and preventing criminal networks from taking advantage of vulnerable people.
To protect Ukrainian refugees from criminal threats, Europol has deployed operational teams to the frontline European countries neighboring Ukraine. Coming at the request of these countries, Europol now has operational teams in Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova, with an upcoming deployment planned to Hungary.
These teams, comprised of Europol specialists and guest officers, support the national authorities with secondary security checks and investigations at the EU external borders to identify criminals and terrorists trying to enter the EU in the refugee flow and exploit the situation. They also gather information in the field, which is used to develop criminal threat assessments and to support investigations.
To provide support to Moldova on border management, the EU signed an agreement with Moldova on border management cooperation between Moldovan border guards and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) on 17 March 2022.
Their tasks will include border management support, such as:
- screening, registration and identity checks of people crossing the border
- border surveillance tasks
- help in the collection and exchange of information
This will support the transfer of people to EU countries in the context of the Solidarity Platform.
To coordinate the Agency’s efforts to support EU countries with Ukraine-related asylum and reception needs, the European Agency for Asylum (EUAA) appointed the Ukraine Emergency Response Board (UERB) on 7 March 2022 and assists in the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive.
For more information on the deployments of EUAA teams to EU countries and other concrete actions visit the webpage on EUAA response to the war in Ukraine.
Protecting people from trafficking in human beings
The majority of people fleeing the war in Ukraine are women and children, including unaccompanied and separated children. Travelling under these circumstances entails a risk of encountering traffickers, in particular organised crime groups, who seek to exploit their vulnerability, thus making them more at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, in particular for the purpose of sexual or labour exploitation.
- adequate prevention measures: information on the risks of trafficking, emergency helplines, awareness raising and training of key professionals who are likely to come into contact with potential victims
- a fully operational National Referral Mechanism to improve early identification, assistance and support to victims of trafficking
- effective cooperation between the asylum, border, law enforcement and judicial authorities as well as with EU agencies
- carrying out necessary checks, also with the help of the information registered in the Schengen Information System
- registration of children, including unaccompanied minors and orphans, at first entry in order to ensure the best interests of the child and that every child is traceable from the moment they leave Ukraine to the moment of arrival in their country of destination
- registration of entities and persons providing accommodation and transport
- respect of national laws and procedures for vetting and monitoring procedures for foster families and other hosts
For more information visit the webpage presenting practical tips on how to stay safe and avoid falling into the hands of traffickers.
- 28 March 202210-point plan for stronger EU coordination
The Commission presents a 10-Point Plan for a stronger European coordination on welcoming people fleeing the war against Ukraine.
- 23 March 2022Commission Communication on welcoming people fleeing the war in Ukraine
The Commission releases a communication titled “Welcoming those fleeing war in Ukraine: Readying Europe to meet the needs” outlining how to manage the current refugee situation.
- 21 March 2022Guidelines on the use of the Temporary Protection Directive
The Commission issues Operational guidelines for EU countries on how to best implement the rules on temporary protection for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
- 17 March 2022Agreement with Moldova and Frontex cooperation
The EU and Moldova sign an agreement on border cooperation management with Frontex.
- 8 March 2022Commission Communication on European solidarity with refugees and those fleeing war in Ukraine
The Commission releases a communication titled “European solidarity with refugees and those fleeing war in Ukraine” outlining how to manage the current refugee situation.
- 4 March 2022Adoption of the Temporary Protection Directive
The EU Council adopts the Council Implementing Decision to grant temporary protection to those fleeing the war in Ukraine. With this Decision the Council also established the Solidarity Platform.
- 2 March 2022Proposal to activate the Temporary Protection Directive and Operational guidelines on external border management
- Operational guidelines on the use of the Temporary Protection Directive for those fleeing war in Ukraine (21 March 2022)
- Council Implementing Decision to grant temporary protection to those fleeing war in Ukraine (4 March 2022)
- Operational guidelines on external border management (4 March 2022)
- Proposal to activate the Temporary Protection Directive (2 March 2022)