Sunday 27 February 2022

Temporary Protection for Ukrainians in the EU? Q and A



Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

*updated March 2 2022 to include the Commission proposal for use of the temporary protection Directive, and guidance for applying EU external borders law.  Updated March 3 to refer to the Council agreeing on the decision. Updated March 4 to discuss the text of the decision. Updated March 28 to refer to guidance on and discussion of implementation. 

**For assistance on seeking temporary protection in the EU, and guidance on implementation, see the links at the end of the blog post 

Among the many big developments over the last few days in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was an important potential asylum law measure – the decision to trigger the EU’s temporary protection Directive, a legal framework for mass influxes of people needing protection dating back to 2001 but never previously used.

Member States indicated 'broad support' for use of the Directive at the EU Council meeting of February 27. The Commission duly proposed a Decision to give effect to this on March 2, alongside guidance for applying EU external borders law. The Council agreed on the  Decision on March 3, and formally adopted it on March 4. It applied from the same day. So to fully understand the legal rules now applying to those fleeing the invasion, it's necessary to discuss both the 2001 Directive and the 2022 Decision to give effect to it. What do these new rules mean for the hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people now fleeing Ukraine?


Which Member States does it apply to?

EU asylum law in principle applies to all Member States, except for the UK, Ireland and Denmark, which had an opt out from the Directive. The UK chose to opt in – although obviously this is now moot in light of Brexit. Ireland initially opted out, then opted in to the Directive in 2003. Denmark remains outside the scope of the Directive, but can choose to adopt its own rules on temporary protection if it wishes.

The parallel guidance on applying EU external borders law applies to all Member States except Ireland (because the other EU Member States that do not apply Schengen fully apply EU external borders rules in the meantime), and Schengen associates (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). 

Note that EU Member States waived short-term visa requirements for Ukrainians back in 2017 already. This law applies to all Member States (and Schengen associates) except Ireland; and Ireland has recently waived short-term visa requirements for Ukrainians unilaterally.


Who is covered by temporary protection?

The Directive applies to a ‘mass influx’ of ‘displaced persons’. A ‘mass influx’ is defined as:

 …arrival in the [EU] of a large number of displaced persons, who come from a specific country or geographical area, whether their arrival in the [EU] was spontaneous or aided, for example through an evacuation programme;

‘Displaced persons’ are defined as:

…third-country nationals or stateless persons who have had to leave their country or region of origin, or have been evacuated, in particular in response to an appeal by international organisations, and are unable to return in safe and durable conditions because of the situation prevailing in that country, who may fall within the scope of Article 1A of the Geneva Convention or other international or national instruments giving international protection, in particular:

(i) persons who have fled areas of armed conflict or endemic violence;

(ii) persons at serious risk of, or who have been the victims of, systematic or generalised violations of their human rights;

‘Article 1A of the Geneva Convention’ refers to the definition of ‘refugee’ under the UN Refugee Convention – ie a well-founded fear of persecution on grounds of race, religion, political opinion, nationality or particular social group – although note that the Directive does not necessarily apply only to those who fall within that refugee definition (‘who may fall within’). Those fleeing Ukraine can point to the ‘armed conflict’ ground of the ‘displaced persons’ definition in this Directive – although note that the list of the two groups who are covered by the Directive is not exhaustive (‘in particular’), meaning that other groups of people might meet the definition too.

Note also that the Directive only applies to those leaving ‘their country or region of origin’. This ought to cover both Ukrainian citizens and non-Ukrainians who can argue that their ‘origin’ is in Ukraine (‘origin’ is not further defined). That scope is broader than the Refugee Convention, which applies where a person is: ‘outside the country of his [or her] nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself [or herself] of the protection of that country’ (or, if stateless, of their country of habitual residence).

Conversely, this means that the Directive does not apply to those whose ‘origin’ is not Ukraine. This might mean that it is interpreted to exclude non-Ukrainian citizens who have moved to Ukraine in recent years. But many of them still need to flee the invasion – and hopefully their need to flee and immediate humanitarian requirements will be recognised even if they technically fall outside the scope of the Directive.  

However, the scope of temporary protection is further defined in the Council decision, given that, according to the Directive, the decision must specify the groups of persons covered, although Member States can extend the regime to other groups displaced for the same reasons and from the same country or region of origin. But if they do so, the financial support provided for in the Directive will not apply to such groups.

According to the Decision, those covered by temporary protection are: 'the following categories of persons displaced from Ukraine on or after 24 February 2022, as a result of the military invasion by Russian armed forces that began on that date':  

(a) Ukrainian nationals residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022;

(b) stateless persons, and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine, who benefited from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022; and,

(c) family members of the persons referred to in points (a) and (b).

The Decision applies in a different way to another category of people: 

...stateless persons, and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine, who can prove that they were legally residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit issued in accordance with Ukrainian law, and who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin.

For this group, 'Member States shall apply either this Decision or adequate protection under their national law'. Adequate protection is not further defined; the preamble adds only that it is 'to be decided upon by each Member State'. The preamble also refers vaguely to the procedure which would apply to this group:

Those seeking to benefit from the protection should be able to prove that they fulfil these eligibility criteria by presenting the relevant documents to the competent authorities in the Member State concerned. If they are unable to present the relevant documents, Member States should redirect them to the appropriate procedure.

Furthermore, the decision notes that, as referred to in the Directive:

Member States may also apply this Decision to other persons, including to stateless persons and to nationals of third countries other than Ukraine, who were residing legally in Ukraine and who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin. 

The preamble gives an indication of who might fall within the scope of this option: 

Such persons could include third-country nationals who were studying or working in Ukraine on a short-term basis at the time of the events leading to the mass influx of displaced persons. 

And the preamble indicates that 'in any event' this group of fleeing people ' admitted into the Union on humanitarian grounds without requiring, in particular, possession of a valid visa or sufficient means of subsistence or valid travel documents, to ensure safe passage with a view to returning to their country or region of origin'. This reflects the Commission's guidance on how to apply external borders law in light of the mass influx. 

This does not exhaust the list of further groups of people who might be optionally covered, as the preamble goes on to say: 

...Member States should be encouraged to consider extending temporary protection to those persons who fled Ukraine not long before 24 February 2022 as tensions increased or who found themselves in the territory of the Union (e.g. on holidays or for work reasons) just before that date and who, as a result of the armed conflict, cannot return to Ukraine.

Next, the Decision gives a definition of family members covered by temporary protection, 'in so far as the family was already present and residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022': 

(a) the spouse of a person referred to in paragraph 1, point (a) or (b), or the unmarried partner in a stable relationship, where the legislation or practice of the Member State concerned treats unmarried couples in a way comparable to married couples under its national law relating to aliens; 
(b) the minor unmarried children of a person referred to in paragraph 1, point (a) or (b), or of his or her spouse, without distinction as to whether they were born in or out wedlock or adopted;

(c) other close relatives who lived together as part of the family unit at the time of the circumstances surrounding the mass influx of displaced persons, and who were wholly or mainly dependent on a person referred to in paragraph 1, point (a) or (b) at the time. 

How was temporary protection set up?

The Directive is just a framework for a possible temporary protection system. So the temporary protection regime was not established automatically, but only because the Council (ie Member States’ home affairs ministers), acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, agreed that there is a mass influx of displaced persons. (In fact the vote in favour was unanimous).

According to the Directive, the Decision setting up temporary protection had to be based on:

(a) an examination of the situation and the scale of the movements of displaced persons;

(b) an assessment of the advisability of establishing temporary protection, taking into account the potential for emergency aid and action on the ground or the inadequacy of such measures;

(c) information received from the Member States, the Commission, UNHCR and other relevant international organisations.

This information can be found in the preamble. 

The European Parliament has to be informed of the decision, but did not have a vote beforehand.

Also, the Council decision had to set out when temporary protection takes effect (in practice, as of March 4 2022); ‘information received from Member States on their reception capacity’; and ‘information from the Commission, UNHCR and other relevant international organisations’. Again, such information can be found in the preamble. 


How many people does it apply to?

The numbers covered by temporary protection are not necessarily unlimited. Member States had to ‘indicate - in figures or in general terms - their capacity to receive’ displaced persons. The Council decision setting up temporary protection had to set out these numbers. In practice, there is only a brief mention of this point in the preamble: 'over and above the absorption capacity of the Ukranian [sic] diaspora residing in the Union' a few Member States have indicated that they have capacity exceeding 310 000 places  Later on Member States ‘may’ declare that they have more reception capacity. 

If the numbers who are ‘eligible for temporary protection’ is higher than the numbers that Member States have said they can accept, ‘the Council shall, as a matter of urgency, examine the situation and take appropriate action, including recommending additional support for Member States affected’. It will remain to be seen what happens on this point.

If the numbers are exceeded, then (implicitly) Ukrainians not covered by temporary protection can still make asylum applications – but one could imagine that in this scenario, Member States would struggle to manage the numbers concerned.


How long will it last?

The starting point is that temporary protection is one year long, although it can be terminated early if the Council decides to end it, on a qualified majority vote on a proposal from the Commission, if the Council has established that conditions in the country of origin have improved sufficiently so ‘as to permit the safe and durable return’ of the beneficiaries.

After the initial year, temporary protection is automatically extended for further periods of six months to a two-year maximum. A further extension for up to a third year is possible, again on a qualified majority vote on a proposal from the Commission.


What rights do people covered by temporary protection have?

Member States must issue residence permits for the duration of temporary protection. For those not yet on the territory, they must issue visas to ensure that they can enter. 

Also, Member States must permit temporary protection beneficiaries to take up employment or self-employment, but they may give priority to EU citizens and EEA nationals, as well as legally resident third-country nationals receiving unemployment benefit. The ‘general law’ regarding remuneration, social security, and other conditions of employment in each Member State applies.

As for social welfare and housing, Member States must ‘ensure that persons enjoying temporary protection have access to suitable accommodation or, if necessary, receive the means to obtain housing’, and ‘shall make provision for persons enjoying temporary protection to receive necessary assistance in terms of social welfare and means of subsistence, if they do not have sufficient resources, as well as for medical care’ – which ‘shall include at least emergency care and essential treatment of illness’. Member States must also ‘provide necessary medical or other assistance to persons enjoying temporary protection who have special needs, such as unaccompanied minors or persons who have undergone torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence.

For education, Member States must give ‘access to the education system under the same conditions as nationals of the host Member State’ for those under 18, but may confine this to the state education system. Admission of adults to the general education system is optional.

According to the Directive, Member States have to authorize entry of family members, ‘in cases where families already existed in the country of origin and were separated due to circumstances surrounding the mass influx’. But this only applies to ‘core’ family members: 

(a) the spouse of the sponsor or his/her unmarried partner in a stable relationship, where the legislation or practice of the Member State concerned treats unmarried couples in a way comparable to married couples under its law relating to aliens; the minor unmarried children of the sponsor or of his/her spouse, without distinction as to whether they were born in or out of wedlock or adopted;

The Directive states that admission of a broader group of family members is only optional, ‘taking into account on a case by case basis the extreme hardship which they would face if the reunification did not take place’: 

(b) other close relatives who lived together as part of the family unit at the time of the events leading to the mass influx, and who were wholly or mainly dependent on the sponsor at the time.

However, the rules on family members in the Directive have in effect been superseded by the Decision implementing it, which places both these categories of family members within the mandatory scope of temporary protection as such - without needing to take 'extreme hardship' into account. (The Decision does require that 'the family was already present and residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022') 

Note that the Directive clarifies that Member States may adopt more favourable rules for persons covered by temporary protection. On this point, the preamble elaborates further: 

This Decision is compatible with, and can be applied in complementarity with, national temporary protection schemes, which can be considered as implementing Directive 2001/55/EC. If the Member State has a national scheme that is more favourable than the arrangements set out in Directive 2001/55/EC, the Member State should be able to continue applying it, since that Directive provides that Member States may adopt or retain more favourable conditions for persons covered by temporary protection. However, should the national scheme be less favourable, the Member State should ensure the additional rights provided for in Directive 2001/55/EC.

Finally, there is a right to ‘mount a legal challenge’ to exclusion from temporary protection or family reunion. CJEU case law on other EU migration law makes clear that this means access to the courts. 

Can temporary protection beneficiaries move between Member States?

There are two dimensions to this issue: before and after obtaining temporary protection. 

Before obtaining temporary protection, the preamble to the Directive states that: 

Ukrainian nationals, as visa-free travellers, have the right to move freely within the Union after being admitted into the territory for a 90-day period. On this basis, they are able to choose the Member State in which they want to enjoy the rights attached to temporary protection and to join their family and friends across the significant diaspora networks that currently exist across the Union. This will in practice facilitate a balance of efforts between Member States, thereby reducing the pressure on national reception systems.

So the Member States have explicitly agreed to 'applicants' choice' as regards seeking temporary protection, facilitated by the short-term free movement of Ukrainians after their visa-free entry . (The preamble is silent about the position of non-Ukrainians covered by the Decision in this respect). This is a Copernican revolution from the way in which the EU's Dublin system treats the allocation of responsibility for asylum applicants - although Syrians, Eritreans and other asylum seekers have diasporas too. Moreover, most asylum seekers are from countries whose nationals do not benefit from a visa waiver. 

After obtaining temporary protection, the Directive states that if a person with temporary protection from one Member State remains on or seeks to enter (without authorisation) the territory of another Member State without authorization during the temporary protection period, the Member State which granted temporary protection must take them back. This is similar to the EU's Dublin system on responsibility for asylum seekers (on which, more below). However, the Directive provides that Member States may agree bilaterally that this rule does not apply.

In fact, during negotiations on the 2022 Decision, all Member States decided to apply this option of not applying the take-back rule, adopting a statement (not yet published in the EU Official Journal, but referred to in the preamble to the Decision) agreeing not to apply this rule in order to support frontline Member States, unless Member States agreed bilaterally that the rule would apply after all. This is very much a 'gentlemens' agreement', given that it is opposite to the default rule in the Directive: in other words, it is a political commitment which is arguably not legally enforceable.

Note, though, that if a person with temporary protection from one Member State decides to move to another Member State, they have no right to insist that their temporary protection status is transferred. So they have no rights as such in that Member State, even though it has made a commitment not to request the first Member State to take them back. The preamble makes this point explicit: 

Once a Member State has issued a residence permit in accordance with Directive 2001/55/EC, the person enjoying temporary protection, whilst having the right to travel within the Union for 90 days within a 180-day period, should be able to avail of the rights derived from temporary protection only in the Member State that issued the residence permit. This should be without prejudice to the possibility for a Member State to decide to issue, at any time, a residence permit to persons enjoying temporary protection under this Decision. 


How does temporary protection relate to asylum applications?

The point of a temporary protection regime is to reduce pressure on asylum systems, as the preamble to the Decision reiterates: 

Introducing temporary protection is also expected to benefit the Member States, as the rights accompanying temporary protection limit the need for displaced persons to immediately seek international protection and thus the risk of overwhelming their asylum systems, as they reduce formalities to a minimum because of the urgency of the situation.

Indeed, it may well be the case in practice that most people with temporary protection will not feel the need to apply for asylum, as least as long as temporary protection is applicable. But the Directive nonetheless addresses what happens if they do apply for asylum.

According to the Directive, temporary protection ‘shall not prejudge’ refugee recognition under the Refugee Convention. It will be possible to apply for asylum ‘at any time’.* Any asylum application not processed by the end of the temporary protection period has to be processed afterwards.

However, Member States can deter applications for asylum by providing that a person cannot hold temporary protection status simultaneously with the status of asylum-seeker (the reason that this would deter applications is that asylum-seekers usually have fewer rights than temporary protection beneficiaries would have). But if an application for asylum or other protection status fails, a Member State must continue to extend temporary protection status to the beneficiary.

Member States may exclude a person from the benefit of temporary protection on grounds identical to the Refugee Convention exclusion clauses (ie war crimes/crimes against humanity, serious non-political crimes, or acts against the principles and purposes of the UN), or the Refugee Convention clauses on exclusion from non-refoulement (ie ‘there are reasonable grounds for regarding him or her as a danger to the security of the host Member State or, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime, he or she is a danger to the community of the host Member State’). Exclusions ‘shall be based solely on the personal conduct of the person concerned’, and must be ‘based on the principle of proportionality’.

As for which Member State would be responsible for considering an asylum application, the EU’s Dublin rules will determine in which Member State an application is made. In most cases, this will mean that the Member State that granted temporary protection is responsible for considering the application, because that entails issuing a residence permit, and the Dublin rules assign responsibility to a Member State which issued a residence permit. (This takes precedence, under the Dublin rules, over the responsibility of the Member State of first entry).  

Unfortunately, the temporary protection Directive could muddy the waters somewhat, as it refers to the Member State which has accepted the transfer of the person onto its territory being responsible. It is not clear if that is a different issue from being the Member State which issued the residence permit. Also the commitment not to send back temporary protection beneficiaries to the Member State which granted temporary protection overlaps awkwardly with the Dublin rules which would normally require this to take place for asylum seekers. 


What happens once temporary protection expires?

Once the temporary protection regime ends, the ‘general laws’ on protection and on foreigners apply, ‘without prejudice’ to certain specific provisions in the Directive. Arguably the reference to the ‘general laws’ must now be understood as a reference not only to the relevant national legislation, but also to EU rules on asylum and the EU’s Returns Directive, which were adopted after the temporary protection Directive. However, the Returns Directive explicitly gives way to more favourable rules in other EU immigration or asylum law - which includes those in the temporary protection Directive. 

For those applying for asylum, that means that the definitions of refugee and subsidiary protection in the EU’s qualification Directive will apply, along with the procedural rules in the procedures Directive and the rules on the status of asylum seekers in the reception conditions directive. The EU’s Dublin rules will determine in which Member State an application is made, although the temporary protection Directive includes some (unclear) additional rules on that issue.  

It’s also possible that Ukrainians could obtain another form of legal status, under the national or EU laws on legal migration (EU law has partly harmonised national laws on this issue).

Those who do not obtain legal status via an immigration or asylum route will in principle have to leave. The specific rules in the temporary protection Directive concerning return first of all provide for rules on voluntary return. Many (but not all) Ukrainians would likely wish to return voluntarily anyway, if the situation improves; but it’s anyone’s guess if it will do.

There is an express possibility of enforced return of persons after the regime has ended, but such return must be ‘conducted with due respect for human dignity’, and Member States ‘shall consider any compelling humanitarian reasons which may make return impossible or unreasonable in specific cases’. They must also ‘take the necessary measures concerning’ residence status of former beneficiaries of temporary protection ‘who cannot, in view of their state of health, reasonably be expected to travel; where for example they would suffer serious negative effects if their treatment was interrupted’. Specifically, those persons ‘shall not be expelled so long as that situation continues.’ Finally on the issue of return, Member States have discretion over whether to let children complete their school year.



When the Directive was adopted back in 2001, there was concern among asylum specialists that it might undercut the Refugee Convention, in particular providing a possibility for Member States to set up a system with a lower standard of protection instead of considering asylum applications. In practice, the EU has since adopted two phases of asylum laws, modestly enhancing the level of protection when adopting the second phase. 

But following an initial welcome of people fleeing the Syrian civil war at the outset of the 2015-16 'refugee crisis', EU asylum law took a dystopian turn in practice. Pushbacks from the territory.  Collaboration with dubious non-EU countries like Libya, to keep asylum-seekers from reaching the EU in the first place - even if it meant they remained subject to appalling treatment in that country.  Detention of asylum seekers in unpleasant conditions. A questionable, but legally unaccountable, quasi-agreement with Turkey. Informal - and again unaccountable - readmission arrangements. A border agency subject to increasing concerns about the legality and morality of its behaviour. 

The descent of asylum law in practice into this moral abyss has shown the EU and its Member States at their worst. But today's temporary protection decision shows the EU at its best - precisely because it waives so many of the basic precepts of its usual asylum rules (visa requirements, detention, procedural rules, the Dublin system, family reunion conditions, limits on employment).  This can only be welcome, but it raises obvious questions about the double standards which apply to others fleeing war or persecution.

Assistance with and guidance on temporary protection 

Commission guidance on implementation of the temporary protection decision

Council discussion paper on coordination of implementation

ECRE compilation of information from different Member States

Luxembourg government

NGO in Luxembourg 

Austrian government hotline for those needing humanitarian assistance and legal aid

(section added March 4 2022, updated March 28 2022)

Further reading

2016 report on the implementation of the Directive in Member States' national law in 2016. Note that now the temporary protection Directive has been activated in practice, Member States might decide to revise their implementing measures. 

UK Statutory Instrument 2005/1379 implementing the Directive; UK Statutory Instrument 2019/745 repealing SI 2005/1379 in light of Brexit (see reg 52). 

(section added March 2 2022)


Photo credit: Leonhard Lenz, via Wikimedia Commons

*Corrected on Feb 28 2022 to drop the statement that 'Member States may delay consideration of an application for Convention refugee status until the temporary protection has ended'. In fact the Directive does not explicitly provide for this as such - although as noted, if a Member State chooses not to permit the status of asylum seeker concurrently with that of temporary protection, in practice this is likely to deter asylum applications as long as temporary protection applies. 


  1. Hi. My Ukrainian girlfriend and I left Ukraine 2 weeks before the invasion on a vacation to Poland. It was a precaution and we're glad we did. Now it means we can't get back to Ukraine. Would this scheme cover her? I mean, she wouldn't be excluded because she left Ukraine before the actual war started would she? She's now stuck.

    1. I hope everything works out for her. On the legal point, a very technical reading would suggest that Ukrainians outside the country when the invasion happened aren't covered, because the definition refers to those 'who have had to leave their country or region of origin...[and who] are unable to return in safe and durable conditions because of the situation prevailing in that country'. But that would arguably be an overly legalistic reading because Ukrainians who were outside the country at the time, and who do not have legal residence elsewhere (or whose legal residence has expired), surely need temporary protection for exactly the same reasons as those fleeing the country. In other words, the second part of the definition (the inability to return in safe and durable conditions) takes precedence over the first part (the 'had to leave' because...); or at least it leads to a broader contextual interpretation of 'had to leave'. How Member States will interpret the rules in practice (if temporary protection is established) remains to be seen, however.

    2. Thank you so much for sharing your brain in a very useful and timely manner!

      On your point of the applicability of TPD to Ukranians who had already left the country prior to the current situation prevailing in Ukrain (who might be phrased as "displacees sur place"), do I understand correctly that they could still qualify for the subsidiary protection in the sense of Art 15 (c) of the recast EU Qualification Directive (in light of the serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international armed conflict)? In other words, the eventual invokation of TPD for Ukrain would not preclude such Ukranians from benefiting from the existing Directives, would it?

      Thank you so much.
      Naoko Hashimoto-Scalise

    3. Agreed, they could apply (as could anyone covered by temporary protection, subject to the risk of downgrading their status), but the previous interpretation of this provision of the qualification directive suggests a higher threshold than in the temporary protection directive. Also, they would only have the status of an asylum seeker in the meantime, rather than temporary protection.

  2. Thank you for this detailed elaboration! I have one quick question, where in the TPD is it stated that a Member State may delay consideration of an application for Convention refugee status until the temporary protection has ended?

    1. Good question. It looks like I have been misinterpreting it - there is no explicit clause on that point. I'll correct the error.

    2. Thank you - this might become an issue quickly - the Dutch Immigration service e.g. is already taking (preemptive) steps in this regard (pausing the processing of asylum applications by Ukrainians) and selling this as a solely positive step (should not be possible under the TPD then though)

    3. The general rules on time limits to decide on asylum applications under Art 31 of the procedures directive would apply though: usually six months; a nine-month then a three-month extension under certain circumstances; the possibility to 'postpone concluding the examination procedure where the determining authority cannot reasonably be expected to decide within the time-limits laid down in paragraph 3 due to an uncertain situation in the country of origin which is expected to be temporary'; and the underlying obligation to conclude examination of the application within 21 months (subject to certain conditions) 'in any event'.

  3. I am a medical doctor trained nd practicing in Ukraine legally residing in Ukraine for 11 years I dont have the permanent. But a long term permit I have no where to go. What's your suggestion

    1. I can't give legal advice in individual cases. In general the law leaves an option to Member States to apply it to those who were legal residents of Ukraine. It might be useful to see if any Member States have taken up this option. The main intention is to give people in this situation immediate humanitarian support and transfer to the country of origin.

  4. In Bulgaria the law provides that a person who is under temporary protection can apply for asylum at any time (as provided for in Art. 17.1 of the Directive) but the consideration of his/her application is postponed until the end of the TP. This is postponement, not a delay, therefore the time limits under Art. 31 apply only after the TP ends. The law thus presumes that the uncertainties stemming from the situation in the country of origin can be presumed for all applicants and with regard to its entire territory. There is no exception. This legal situation thus looks incompatible with the Directive. What do you think?

    1. Article 31.4 of the Directive expressly applies to postponement. Article 31.5 then says that "in any event" there must be a decision on an asylum application 21 months after it is lodged. So as the law stands the time limit does not run from the end of the temporary protection period, but from when the application was lodged, whenever that was. The Directive could be amended, of course.

    2. Right, there is therefore a breach, as the TP can last more than 21 months. Article 31.4 of the Procedures Directive expressly applies to postponement but on a condition: “where the determining authority cannot reasonably be expected to decide within the time-limits laid down in paragraph 3 due to an uncertain situation in the country of origin which is expected to be temporary”. It thus does not create a presumption of unconditional uncertainty as the Bulgarian law does. Because the determining authority may be able to decide in cases where the situation is not uncertain, despite the armed conflict.

  5. As far as I can see the Directive still has a residual effect in the UK.

    Part 11A of the Immigration Rules is still in place and recognises it. The regulations you refer to SI 2005/1379 only set out implementation provisions - not actually adopting the directive.

    The directive itself is not repealed.

    The result seems to me to mean that, once the EU has adopted a declaration, the UK has accepted it will give protection to anyone who arrives at a point of entry or is in the UK.

    People will not get to the point of entry unless they have some sort of entry permission (Ports of entry are all on the UK mainland), but they can get into the UK illegally quite easily by crossing the land border in Ireland. If they get to this point Part 11 of the Immigration Rules applies and they have a right to apply for protection - at that point they are instantly protected from being deported until their claim is resolved.

    The limits on the protection are lower than for the Government's family scheme (1 year rather than 3) but certainly better than nothing and can also be extended. Presumably people will later be able to apply for Humanitarian Protection anyway if they need it.

    I am unclear what the effect of the directive itself not being repealed is. if it remains binding beyond the scope of Part 11A it contains an interesting provision which requires that visas be granted to enable people covered by a declaration to get to the UK. (Art 8(3)

    1. It's an EU decision, not a declaration. Implementation provisions via Regs were a usual means of giving effect to Directives when the UK was a Member State, so their removal cannot be assumed to be irrelevant. Which provisions of the immigration rules exactly do you think still apply here? And your comparison of the time periods misses the point that the scope of the EU rules is broader.

  6. Hello,
    Hope you are doing well.
    Can you please kindly comment on the voluntary return of the person to Ukraine during the regime of the temporary protection. Do you think it will be possible to return to Ukraine before the end of the temporary protection regime?

    1. Article 21 of the Directive states that 'Member States shall take the measures necessary to make possible the voluntary return of persons enjoying temporary protection or whose temporary protection has ended.' There are further details in this Article.

  7. Hello
    A question that a Ukrainian friend has not been able to get an answer. They have applied for the TPR in Lithuania but want to travel outside the EU to see family then return after a couple of weeks. Will this be a problem for them? Will their TPR status be revoked?

    1. Hello, I was wondering if you able to find out the answer to your question? I have a similar situation and wanted to know if it's possible to leave the EU while under TPR.

    2. The Directive is silent on this issue.

  8. I would like to ask all if you have any analysis or documents that it is possible to change the country of temporary protection (i.e. to cancel in one country and move to another country to reapply for temporary protection)? My understanding so far from european law is that it is possible. However, our authorities do not accept this. Alternatively, I would be grateful for practice from other countries.

    1. See the new blog post by my colleague -

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Hello Steve,

    you state in the article that the right to ‘mount a legal challenge’ (Art. 29 of the Directive) means - according to CJEU case law - access to the courts. Could you please refer to some specific judgments in which the CJEU stated this?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    1. EP v Council, on the family reunion Directive, and El-Hassani, on the visa code, for instance.

  11. Hi Steve. Excellent Article. Can I please clarify: Does the Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 constitution a form of "EU Law"? I had thought so, but note that at the top of the Implementing Decision the following text appears in brackets: "(Non-legislative acts)."

    Further - what texts do you recommend I read to understand what process of interpretation the ECJ applies when giving meaning to ambiguous terms in EU Council Decisions?

    1. Yes, it's a form of EU law. "Non-legislative acts" simply means that it was not adopted by either the ordinary legislative procedure or a special legislative procedure. In the UK it would be called secondary legislation, although EU law refers to implementing measures or delegated acts instead. As for interpretation of EU law by the CJEU, there's lots of literature - you could search via Google or a legal search engine. See for instance

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