According to the proposal, people fleeing Ukraine should receive temporary residence permits in the EU. This would also give them the right to work and claim health care for an initial period of two years, and children could go to school.
According to the Commission, the protection status could be extended for another year should a return to Ukraine be impossible. The offer should also apply to migrants from third countries such as Afghanistan who have applied for asylum in Ukraine or had other protection status.
This is the first time the Commission has used a 2001 directive on refugee protection that was drawn up in the course of the Yugoslav war. At least 15 EU countries must agree to activate it. In principle, Austria has declared its willingness to accept Ukrainian refugees.
The German federal government sees a great willingness to help in the neighboring countries of Ukraine to take in refugees. “Europe stands together,” says a government spokeswoman in Berlin. All EU countries are ready to take in those seeking protection.
Should the rules come into force, Ukrainians would be allowed to apply for protection status in any EU country. The right to apply for asylum continues to exist. Ukrainians with a biometric passport can move freely in the EU for 90 days. The directive also provides for the possibility of voluntary redistribution of refugees in the EU. However, the EU Commission said on Wednesday that one would first have to wait and see which countries would be particularly affected.
According to government figures, around 500,000 refugees have arrived in Poland alone since the beginning of the war. According to the EU Commission, more than 650,000 people had already fled Ukraine to neighboring EU countries as of Tuesday.
The directive was created as a result of the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It has never been used. The directive is to be applied if the asylum authorities are otherwise at risk of being overburdened. Those seeking protection are guaranteed minimum standards such as work permits and access to social assistance.
On Wednesday, the EU Commission also presented non-binding guidelines for Ukraine’s neighboring countries to make border controls easier.