BRUSSELS, March 2 (Reuters) – The European Commission on Wednesday proposed to grant temporary protection to people fleeing war in Ukraine, including a residence permit and access to employment and social welfare.
With EU members Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary having land borders with Ukraine, more than 650,000 people have fled there since the Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, the EU executive said.
Designed to deal with such mass arrivals of displaced persons in the EU, the new legislation would apply in all member states, without having to go through lengthy asylum processes.
The proposal will be discussed on Thursday by EU interior ministers, who had already given it broad support last week, the Commission said.
Once adopted, temporary protection will start applying to Ukrainian refugees immediately for one year, and can last for up to three years – unless the situation in Ukraine improves sufficiently for people to go back home and the scheme to end.
“All those fleeing Putin’s bombs are welcome in Europe,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said. “We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home.”
In practice, this means everyone fleeing war in Ukraine, independently of their nationality, should be allowed to enter EU countries, the European Commission said.
Temporary protection will then be granted to Ukrainian nationals as well as those who were already benefiting from international protection or asylum seeker status in Ukraine.
However those on short-term stay in Ukraine and who can safely go back to their country of origin will not benefit from this new legislation.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander; additional reporting by Marine Strauss; editing by John Stonestreet and Philippa Fletcher)
Photo – EU Audiovisual Service