European Commission requests temporary protection for refugees from Ukraine

The European Commission has requested the European Council to acknowledge the mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine and to adopt temporary protection measures. Thus, the Commission has initiated – for the first time in its history – the implementation of protective measures under Council Directive 2001/55/EC.

The Rationale

The Commission stressed that “temporary protection is the appropriate instrument in the current situation.” Temporary protection will provide refugees from Ukraine with an adequate and comparable level of protection in all EU Member States. The introduction of temporary protection will also benefit the Member States: it will relieve their respective asylum systems and effectively manage the influx of refugees from Ukrainian territory. 

Who is eligible?

The Commission recommends that temporary protection be extended to the following categories of displaced persons, effective February 24, 2022, following the military invasion launched by Russian military forces on said date:

a)  Ukrainian citizens residing in Ukraine (hereinafter: Ukrainian citizens)

b) third-country nationals or stateless persons legally residing in Ukraine, whose safe and permanent return to their country or region of origin is impossible. Under the directive, this category will unconditionally include persons with long-term residence permits, while persons with international protection and asylum seekers in Ukraine will be eligible on the condition that they are unable to return to their respective countries of origin.

c) family members of the aforementioned individuals, regardless of whether a given family member is able to safely and permanently return to their country or region of origin.

The term “family member” denotes :

a) spouse or partner with whom the Ukrainian citizen or third-country national has a stable relationship (provided that the legislation or practice of the relevant Member State treats unmarried couples in a way comparable to married couples, in compliance with the local legislation applicable to foreigners)

b) minor and unmarried children or children of the spouse of a Ukrainian citizen or third-country national, regardless of whether they were born in wedlock, out of wedlock or adopted

c) other close relatives who lived together as a single family at the time when the circumstances leading to the mass influx of displaced persons occurred and who were at that time wholly or partially dependent on a Ukrainian citizen or third-country national.

In order to be eligible, the family must have already existed at the time of the circumstances leading to the mass influx of displaced persons.

Member States may decide to expand the above categories so as to extend temporary protection to more persons. The Commission encourages Member States to do so for persons who entered the EU shortly before February 24, 2022 (whether due to escalating tensions in Ukrainian territory or for tourist or professional purposes).

How long will temporary protection be valid for?

Temporary protection is granted for a period of one year, with a possible extension

What rights will be granted to beneficiaries of temporary protection?

Among others, Ukrainian citizens, third-country nationals and their family members who will be granted temporary protection will be entitled to:

  • obtain a residence permit
  • take up employment or start a business
  • adequate accommodation and, where applicable, the necessary means for obtaining accommodation
  • welfare services
  • medical care
  • education for children
  • family reunification.

What’s next?

For now, the European Commission’s request is only a proposal. It was forwarded to the European Council, which shall consider it duly. The decision to introduce temporary protection in connection with the armed conflict in Ukraine will be taken by the Council.