The European Union (EU)  passed a “Temporary Protection Directive” for Ukrainians and others fleeing the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The directive will provide immediate, temporary protection to these individuals. The provision is intended to be used in exceptional circumstances when the member states' asylum systems would be overwhelmed by a mass influx of refugees.

The directive provides individuals with a safe haven in the 27 EU member states for an initial period of one year, which may be extended. Qualifying recipients will immediately be issued a residence permit and be authorized to work and access housing, social welfare assistance and medical care.

The directive covers:

  • Ukrainian nationals
  • Non-Ukrainians and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin
  • Certain family members of the above two categories of people

However, the directive does not include others who were present in Ukraine for a short or temporary period. These individuals will be given access to transit through the EU to return to their countries of origin.

One of the primary purposes for implementing the directive is to reduce the pressure on the member states' asylum systems by creating a protective status that reduces immediate administrative burdens. The European Commission may propose at any time to end the temporary protection if the situation in Ukraine improves and the directive is no longer needed.

Reportedly, the EU national ministers unanimously agreed to activate the directive, and it will enter into force once the proposal is formally adopted by the Council, a step expected to take place in the coming days. Further details on the plan will be forthcoming.

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