#Alert: The unprecedented decision of the EU Council to introduce temporary protection for displaced persons in connection with the armed conflict in Ukraine
The Council of the EU took into account the Commission’s proposal and took the unprecedented decision resulting in the introduction of temporary protection for displaced persons in connection with the armed conflict in Ukraine. Temporary protection and related rights have been in force since March 4, 2022. The Polish provisions on temporary protection, which the decision is to supplement require thorough changes and adaptation to today’s realities. At the same time, preliminary work is underway on a special act on assistance to Ukrainian citizens in connection with an armed conflict in that country. The bill seems to provide for a competitive mode of aid in relation to that resulting from temporary protection.
The Council of the EU took the unprecedented decision resulting in the introduction of temporary protection for displaced persons who were forced to leave Ukraine following the Russian military invasion launched on February 24, 2022.
The purpose of the decision is to supplement the national provisions of the Member States implementing Directive 2001/55/EC on temporary protection by enabling the possibility of their application and defining the personal scope and time frames.
The introduction of temporary protection means for its beneficiaries legalizing the stay, guaranteeing the right to work and running a business, providing social and medical assistance to the necessary extent and access to education for minors in accordance with the national provisions of the Member States related to the decision, implementing the directive on temporary protection and for the duration of the protection.
The Council’s decision applies to:
(1) Ukrainian citizens residing in Ukraine before February 24, 2022,
(2) stateless persons or third-country nationals other than Ukraine who, before February 24, 2022, were enjoying international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine, and
(3) family members of the persons referred to in points (1) and (2). Family members within the meaning of the decision are, in particular, the spouses of these persons, their minor children, children of their spouses (regardless of whether they were born in or outside a marriage, or adopted) and other close relatives who lived together as one family at the time of circumstances justifying leaving Ukraine and being at least partially dependent on the persons referred to in points (1) and (2).
The decision may also apply to stateless persons or third-country nationals other than Ukraine who can prove that they legally resided in Ukraine prior to February 24, 2022 on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit issued in accordance with Ukrainian law, and who are unable to return to the country or region of origin in safe and durable conditions.
If the Member State concerned so decides, the decision may also apply to other persons, including stateless persons and third-country nationals other than Ukraine, who legally resided in Ukraine and who are unable to return to their country or region of origin in a safe and durable conditions. This applies in particular to holders of Ukrainian temporary residence permits or visas who worked or studied in Ukraine before February 24, 2022. The decision make it clear that such persons should in any event be admitted to the territory of the EU on humanitarian grounds, even if they do not have the appropriate documents, so that they can be ensured safe passage to return to their country or region of origin.
Temporary protection has been in force since March 4, 2022. The duration of protection should be one year, but it can be extended for another six-month periods for a period not exceeding one year. The decision is binding on all Member States except Denmark.
A Member State in which beneficiaries of temporary protection will be able and want to take advantage of this protection there is obliged to provide them with appropriate documents confirming their status.
Poland is also bound by the Directive on temporary protection and participates in the adoption of the Council decision. Polish provisions on temporary protection, however, require thorough changes and adapt them to today’s realities. They regulate too many things in a very general way. At the same time, preliminary work is underway on a special act on assistance to Ukrainian citizens in connection with an armed conflict in that country. The bill seems to provide for a competitive mode of aid in relation to that resulting from temporary protection.
Solutions provided for in the bill of the special act are described here.
In the current situation, the Polish government should not focus on creating a competitive method of assisting such people, but rather on filling the legal gaps in the national provisions implementing the Directive on temporary protection and on making them more detailed.
Create competition the legal status of these persons may be uncertain. This postulate is all the more appropriate because the scope of the proposed assistance is defined more narrowly in the bill of the special act in its current form, and thus it is less favourable than it results from the current Polish provisions on temporary protection.
Therefore, it seems reasonable to prepare an amendment to the provisions on temporary protection with the use of some solutions developed for the needs of the special act.
Regardless of whether further work on the special act will go towards the amendment of temporary protection or, as before, they will create a competitive mode of protection, we will keep you informed about the progress in this area.