Key Points  

  • The European Commission invoked the Temporary Protection Directive on 3 March 2022 to provide safeguards for the rights of Ukrainian nationals and nationals staying short-term in Ukraine who are fleeing to the European Union (EU).
  • Individuals who receive special protection under the Directive are eligible for a residence permit, access to employment, access to education for minors, opportunities for family relocation and social welfare. 
  • Member states of the European Union will have the right to determine the conditions of reception, residence and work access of people protected under the Directive.  
  • Member states are expected to release further clarification in the coming days on the implementation of the Directive


In response to the Balkan Wars in the 1990s, the EU drafted the Temporary Protection Directive as a means of outlining procedural measures for protecting displaced persons in the case of mass influx of foreign nationals arriving from countries outside of the EU.  

On 2 March 2022, the EU Commission officially proposed invoking the Directive in order to provide protections to Ukrainian citizens fleeing into the EU.  

On 3 March 2022, The EU Commission convened to discuss the implementation of the Directive and released further guidelines on temporary protection status.

How Does the Directive Apply? 

For the provisions of the Directive to apply, EU member states must be in solidarity in receiving displaced persons through a structured mechanism and a qualified majority vote must be made.  

On 3 March 2022, the European Commissioner of Home Affairs announced that the Directive had been unanimously invoked.  

Each member state must work to quickly apply the European Council decision in national legislation to support the implementation of the Directive in each country.

Common Provisions Under the Directive  

Under the provisions of the Directive, all member states that have opted into the agreement are required to make certain concessions for refugees and displaced persons. Each member state has the right to determine the conditions of reception and residence of people under the Directive.  

Individuals who receive special protection under the Directive are eligible for a residence permit, access to employment, access to education for minors, opportunities for family relocation and social welfare.  

Under Article 1, a 'residence permit' is defined as any permit or authorization issued by a member state that allows a protected individual to reside in the territory. The residence permit will initially be granted for a period of one year and can be extended an additional two times for a total period of three years.  

Under Article 6, member states must also provide persons granted temporary protection "every facility for obtaining the necessary visas, including transit visas". This is in addition to reduced formalities required for the issuance of a visa and assurance that visas are free of charge or provided at a reduced cost.  

Individuals protected under the Directive will be permitted to engage in employment or self-employed activities. However, under Article 12 of the Directive, the conditions of employment are subject to the labor market policies of each member state. As such, protected individuals will be subject to the rules applicable to the profession and may be required to hold relevant education and work experience if necessary for the position. Specific information is expected to be released by each member state. 

Ukrainian nationals, as visa-free travelers, will be able to move freely within the EU after being admitted into the territory, allowing them to join their family and friends across the significant diasporas that currently exist across the European Union, and thereby facilitating a balance of efforts between the member states. However, according to the guidelines released by the EU Commission, Ukrainian nationals entering the EU with expired passports or those only holding an ID card or birth certificates may be unable to travel between member states and will instead need to claim asylum in order to travel further into the EU.  

How will the Conditions of the Directive be Implemented? 

On 3 March 2022, the European Commission put forward guidelines on the external border management to facilitate border crossing at the EU-Ukraine borders. While the communication is expected to provide clarification to the member states bordering Ukraine, the recommendations are only guidelines and each member state will have the right to determine how various measures are implemented.  

Under the guidelines, the Commission proposed creating a 'Solidarity Platform' that will allow member states to exchange information regarding their capacity to receive displaced persons and the number of persons granted temporary protection under the Directive.  

Who Benefits from the Concessions of the Directive?  

The Directive allows the Commission to decide to which specific group of people the temporary protection may apply, as additional individuals beyond Ukraine nationals may be specified.  

How Long Will the Directive Remain in Place?

The rights granted under the Directive can end when the maximum duration has been reached or by a qualified majority vote.

Originally published 3 March, 2022

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