EU Member States offer Ukrainians temporary protection – categories of persons to be granted protection to be specified nationally
The EU has activated the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time in order to help people fleeing Ukraine. On 2 March, the Commission issued a proposal for a Council decision on activation, and the decision was adopted in terms of contents at the meeting of home affairs ministers held on 3 March. The decision is expected to enter into force on 4 March or over the next few days.
Finland and every EU Member State is obligated to grant temporary protection to the group specified in the decision for the year during which the decision is in force. If necessary, the decision to grant protection can be extended after the first year by six months at a time, up to a maximum of three years total.
People who are granted temporary protection have access to reception services and the labour market.
This EU-wide decision covers
- Ukrainian citizens and their family members
- Beneficiaries of international protection in Ukraine and their family members
- Other permanent residents of Ukraine who cannot return to their country of origin
- At the discretion of the Member State, other residents of Ukraine who cannot return to their country of origin.
The requirement for all of these groups is that the person must have been resident in Ukraine and fled when Russia’s invasion began, i.e. on 24 February or thereafter.
Government to decide the category of people to be granted protection in Finland
The Council decision leaves a certain amount of discretion for Member States to decide the exact category of people to be granted protection. This consideration is currently under way in Finland, and the Government will decide the category to be applied in Finland in the next few days.
In this connection, it is possible to decide to apply temporary protection more extensively at the national level than what is defined in the EU-wide decision. It is particularly important to decide the status of Ukrainians who arrived in Finland before 24 February, and the Commission has recommended that Member States show flexibility in this respect.
Extensive political consensus amongst EU Member States concerning the decision
The Council decision was prepared and its contents adopted in the EU exceptionally quickly and with an extensive political consensus. Member States now have a unified and functional tool to rapidly help people fleeing the war without the people having to undergo individual asylum procedures.
The Directive is designed to address events of mass influx of third-country nationals to the EU when war, violence or human rights violations prevent them from returning to their home country. The mechanism was created after the conflict in the former Yugoslavia as an exceptional arrangement so that the EU could immediately offer protection to masses of people forced to flee their home regions in similar situations.
The Temporary Protection Directive has never been activated before, and the permitting procedure, for example, is new. Practical arrangements are currently being made and additional instructions drawn up.
Kukka Krüger, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 270, [email protected]
Marja Avonius, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 668, [email protected]