The European Commission is proposing a measure that will grant immediate protection in the EU for those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Refugees from the country will be given a residence permit, and will also have access to education and to the labour market.
In what the commission described as a “historically unprecedented” move, it plans to activate the Temporary Protection Directive, a measure introduced in 2001 to deal with crisis situations, and avoid overwhelming member states' asylum systems.
The EU body is also putting forward operational guidelines intended to help states’ border guards to manage arrivals at the borders with Ukraine efficiently, while maintaining a high level of security.
No ‘lengthy formalities’
“Europe stands by those in need of protection. All those fleeing Putin's bombs are welcome in Europe,” said Ursula von der Leyen (president of the European Commission, pictured).
The Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said that the EU would grant residency rights, labour-market access, and housing to people in need.
“We will make sure those fleeing the war in Ukraine can get to the EU quickly, without going through lengthy formalities at the borders,” she added.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 650,000 people have fled to neighbouring EU countries.
Under this proposal announced today (2 March), Ukrainian nationals, and people who have made Ukraine their home, as well as their family members displaced by the conflict, will be entitled to protection across the EU.
Non-Ukrainian nationals, and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin, will also be granted protection. This category includes asylum-seekers, or beneficiaries of international protection and their family members.
People who are legally present in Ukraine for a short term, and are able to return safely to their country of origin will fall outside the scope of the measure. The commission says, however, that they should be allowed access to the EU to transit, before returning to their countries of origin.