EU proposes temporary protection for people fleeing war

EU proposes temporary protection for people fleeing war
Traffic jams as people look to leave Kyiv. Credit: Belga

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive, which will allow people fleeing the war in Ukraine to get quick and effective assistance.

As part of the temporary protection, introduced in light of the "extraordinary and exceptional nature of the attack and the scale of new arrivals to the EU," those fleeing the war will be given a residence permit, and gain access to education and to the labour market.

“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 last week, over 650,000 people have reportedly led to various neighbouring EU Member States. By activating the Temporary Protection Directive, the Commission hopes to avoid overwhelming the Member States' asylum systems.

Temporary protection will also be offered to non-Ukrainian nationals and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin, however, those who are legally residing in Ukraine for a short term and are able to return safely to their country of origin will not be included.

The European Council, which reportedly already expressed support for this measure, must now adopt the Temporary Protection proposal. Once adopted, the temporary protection mechanism would start applying immediately and run for one year.

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In response to the predicted influx of migrants, Belgium's Migration Minister Sammy Mahdi launched #Plekvrij (Free Space), an initiative in collaboration with the country's municipalities to map all crisis shelters, such as municipal buildings and sports halls.

It also allows people to voluntarily register to host refugees who are waiting for a permanent place of residence, which will also be mapped by local municipalities.

Tweet translation: "There may be an influx of refugees from Ukraine. Help them by offering them a place to stay. You can register at I have #SpaceFree."

Managing arrivals at borders

The Commission also put forward operational guidelines to help Member States' border guards in managing arrivals at the borders with Ukraine efficiently, while maintaining a high level of security.

"We are working to facilitate efficient crossings at the borders for people and their pets, with the necessary security checks," Vice-President for Promoting out European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said.

These guidelines also include simplification of border controls at the EU's borders with Ukraine, allowing border guards can temporarily relax border checks in "exceptional circumstances for certain categories of people," and for relaxed guidelines to allow those displaced from Ukraine can bring personal belongings without any customs duties.

This would also allow border guards to authorise non-EU nationals to enter an EU country's territory on humanitarian grounds even if they do not fulfil all entry conditions, for example, without a valid passport or visa with them), as well as the creation of temporary border crossing points.

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