All 27 EU countries are ready to accept refugees from Ukraine. After a meeting of EU interior ministers:inside on 03 March 2022 it was announced that the EU would A guideline which guarantees war refugees from Ukraine protection in the EU - without costly asylum procedures. It is great that Europe is finally sticking together when it comes to taking in refugees. By activating the directive, refugees from Ukraine will be offered protection and perspective without bureaucracy. The directive also clearly states that refugees have a right to work and become self-sufficient. Member states must also ensure that refugees are either provided with adequate housing or given resources to take care of such housing themselves. Medical care and access to the education system must also be guaranteed.
Current flight movements from Ukraine
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania have opened their borders and allow all people from Ukraine to enter. The refugees do not need a passport, which many Ukrainians do not have. The non-EU country of Moldova also allows refugees to enter. However, due to the general mobilization, Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 cannot leave Ukraine in most cases. So far, according to UNHCR (as of March 11, 2022), more than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine, in addition to more than one million internally displaced persons in Ukraine. Putin's war of aggression has led to the largest movement of refugees in Europe since the end of the Second World War.
The legal basis
The legal basis for this action is the so-called Mass inflow Directive 2001/55/EC. Denmark is the only EU state outside the scope of the directive. The directive provides a mechanism for the EU-wide coordinated reception of large numbers of refugees beyond the individual asylum procedure and beyond the Dublin system. Responsible for determining a "mass influx" is the Council of the European Union. The Parliament is only informed of the decision, but is not allowed to comment on it in advance.
This law was created to grant protection after the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, but has not yet been used. In 2015, it was not applied because it was not foreseeable whether the necessary EU decision would be reached.
Where do we go from here?
In principle, the directive stipulates a minimum period of one year, but this can be extended. The actual implementation of the directive is up to the member states. They must now make commitments about how many refugees they want to take in. The Ukrainian refugees can choose an EU member state in which they will receive protection under this directive.
Unfortunately, the directive leaves one important point open, namely how to deal with third-country nationals. Germany wants to accept all refugees from Ukraine regardless of their nationality. There will also be no upper limit, said Interior Minister Faeser.
Currently, the member states, especially those on the border with Ukraine, are facing very great challenges. So far, there are not enough services for vulnerable groups such as children. The situation at the borders and the initial reception is not good and needs to improve quickly. It is also important that access to state services – schooling, medical care – is guaranteed quickly and easily.
My demands and proposals
It is important that the Commission now coordinates that refugees who do not have a specific country of destination are assigned to Member States so that we arrive at a fair distribution. Member States that take in many refugees should receive financial support from the EU in this regard. The most important thing, however, is that the member states implement the directive openly and appropriately and also grant access to third-country nationals and do not screen out those people who have had to flee Ukraine but are not Ukrainian citizens.
In recent years, refugees from war zones have been turned back again and again, although this was forbidden and inhumane. One can only hope that the current crisis will help the EU states to adhere to the applicable law and quickly implement today's decision. Regardless of the directive and the criteria set, all those seeking protection have the right to access the asylum procedure. There must be no rejections.