The twenty-seven EU states have given the green light to apply, for the first time in history, the directive for the temporary protection of displaced persons and to welcome those fleeing Ukraine. To reach unanimity, however, some stakes were inserted, especially wanted by Poland, to file the status of non-Ukrainian citizens.
“The directive will be applied to all Ukrainian citizens, their family members as well as beneficiaries of international protection already refugees in Ukraine and third-country nationals with a long-term residence permit in the country. For this last category, the member states they will be able to choose whether to apply temporary protection, decided today, or national legislation in compliance with the rules of European law “, explained the French Minister of the Interior (country that holds the EU presidency), Gerard Darmanin, at the end of the Internal Affairs Council.
Translated: Ukrainians will be entitled to an immediate residence permit which will also allow them to work. The duration is one year, extendable up to three. Non-Ukrainians, on the other hand, will depend on the state to examine their request. They will be able to obtain the same treatment or have national protection which is generally limited and which, in the event of not being entitled to asylum, could result in repatriation.
Certain repatriation, however, for non-Ukrainian citizens who have a temporary residence permit. Not only the workers but also the students. “There are many third country nationals living in Ukraine who are either temporary workers or just students. They are not covered by the Temporary Protection Directive but they will be helped out of Ukraine and will all be welcomed to Europe where they will have the necessary accommodation. We will then contact the their countries of origin who will send airplanes to take them home safely “, explained the commissioner for internal affairs, Ylva Johansson.
In its proposal, the Commission had equated long-term residents with Ukrainian citizens, placing them among the beneficiaries of the temporary protection guaranteed by the directive approved today. “The Commission proposal said that anyone with a third country nationality and a long-time resident of Ukraine should be covered while now it says they should be covered by the Temporary Protection Directive or national legislation,” Johansson confirmed.
“We prepared this proposal very quickly without having time to consult the Member States and some governments wanted to make adjustments”, she justified herself. “Temporary protection will be granted to Ukrainians and also to non-Ukrainian subjects residing in the territory with the possibility, for the latter, of having another type of protection, the one established at national level as long as it is in line with general European standards” And “I think it is an excellent result”, commented the Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorgese.
“We must be satisfied – he added – for the application of this directive which had never been carried out since 2001 and is an application that is in line with all the activities carried out by Europe, by the 27 countries both in terms of sanctions “against Russia” and support for the Ukrainian people, “he added.
In any case it will be a great challenge for the Union. Almost one million refugees have already crossed the threshold of the EU this week. Estimates speak of an exodus of 7-8 million people while according to the latest UN forecasts there could be more than 10 million refugees. “But this time we are better prepared than in 2015”, assures Johansson.