Following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the EU responded rapidly and showed solidarity in action by helping people in need. This included direct humanitarian aid, emergency civil protection assistance, support at the border, as well as granting protection to those fleeing the war and entering the EU.
For the first time in its history, the European Union activated the Temporary Protection Directive setting the legal rules to help manage the mass arrival of people. In parallel, the European Commission quickly began to coordinate with EU countries to gather information about the situation on the ground and to prevent trafficking in human beings.
DG HOME coordinates the Solidarity Platform, which brings together EU countries, international partners, and EU agencies to ensure the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive. The EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint collects important information, such as the arrivals of refugees, to properly stir migration management response.
Drawing from past experience in managing migration, it soon became clear that EU countries would not have appropriate capacity to process asylum applications lodged by the high number of people fleeing the war.
That is why on 2 March 2022, the Commission proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive, which was then adopted by the European Council on 4 March 2022 through the Decision to grant those fleeing the war in Ukraine temporary protection.
People who are eligible have the right to temporary protection for a period of one year. If war persists, there are possibilities to extend temporary protection for an additional two years. Beneficiaries of temporary protection have the right to:
- access to housing
- social welfare assistance
- medical care
- legal guardianship and safe placement for unaccompanied children and teenagers
- access to education for children and teenagers
- access to the labour market (subject to EU countries’ labour market policies)
- access to banking services, for instance opening a basic bank account
- move to another EU country, before the issuance of a residence permit
- move freely in EU countries (other than the Member State of residence) for 90 days within a 180-day period after a residence permit in the host EU country is issued
To explain the provisions of the Temporary Protection Directive and the Council implementing Decision in the context of granting temporary protection to people fleeing the war in Ukraine, on 21 March 2022 the Commission issued Operational guidelines. The guidelines are not a legally binding document but address the practical aspects to help EU countries in implementing the Directive and the Council implementing Decision. The Commission also published a Frequently Asked Questions document on the interpretation of the Temporary Protection Directive and Council Implementing Decision 2022/382.
The Commission published a Frequently Asked Questions document on going home to Ukraine on a voluntary basis in the context of the Temporary Protection.
Practical information for people fleeing the war and arriving to the EU
All the key information for those fleeing the war is centralised on the information webpage. There, people can find practical information in English, Ukrainian and Russian about their rights concerning:
- temporary protection
- travel within the EU
- access to housing, health care, education and jobs
People can also find the hotlines and the contact points of national authorities and practical information about the key organisations in the EU helping those fleeing the war.
The webpage: Information for people fleeing the war in Ukraine
Phone helpline for those fleeing the war in Ukraine
The European Commission launched a phone helpline for people displaced from Ukraine. The helpline can be contacted in Ukrainian and Russian within the EU at 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11, as well as from outside the EU at +32 22 99 96 96.
The Solidarity Platform has been set up to ensure the provisions of the Temporary Protection Directive in close collaboration with all parties mentioned below. Its role is to monitor the needs identified in EU countries and coordinate an operational response. The Solidarity Platform also provides a general forum for discussion to support the implementation of the 10-Point Plan presented by the Commission after the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council of 28 March 2022. The Solidarity Platform continues to prove its added value in the overall coordination of the EU response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, by offering an informal space, usually an online meeting area, for the quick alignment of operational and policy responses by the key stakeholders.
The Solidarity Platform, coordinated by DG HOME, brings together:
- EU countries
- Schengen Associated States
- EU Agencies (in particular, EU Agency for Asylum, Frontex and Europol)
- IOM, UNHCR and other partners, including civil society organisations in specific meeting formats
- Ukrainian authorities
- International partners
The Platform meets on a regular basis alongside the Council’s Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) as well as the EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Management Network (the Blueprint).
Cooperation with international partners plays a key role. The EU’s partners such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are engaged in the Solidarity Platform meetings dedicated to international cooperation.
In addition, the involvement of the Ukrainian authorities in Ukraine, the Ukrainian embassies and consulates in the EU Member States is of great importance. The Solidarity Platform engages regularly with Ukrainian authorities to assess the needs and address potential challenges experienced by Ukrainian citizens in the EU.
The European Commission also regularly engages with civil society organisations through the Solidarity Platform but also in bilateral meetings and on the ground through EU staff in respective Member States.
Objectives and actions of the Solidarity Platform
- Provide a general forum for discussion and action to support the implementation of the 10-Point plan for a stronger coordination and exchange of best practices on welcoming the people fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine
- Collect relevant information on reception and accommodation capacity in EU countries
- Coordinate matching offers from EU countries to accept people fleeing war in Ukraine who have already arrived in the EU
- Coordinate the transfer of persons from Moldova to EU countries and Schengen Associated Member States
- Facilitate and make use of relevant EU instruments
Priorities and agenda items are defined by the Commission in close collaboration with Member States and other stakeholders such as the Ukrainian authorities to ensure discussions based on needs.
Given the concrete and operational nature of some issues discussed, several sub-groups of the Solidarity Platform have been established, which are convened on a regular or ad-hoc basis. These include for instance a sub-group on the transfers of displaced persons from Moldova or a sub-group on the Temporary Protection Platform.
Since its establishment on 4 March 2022 with a Council Implementing Decision, the Solidarity Platform achieved concrete results in managing migration across several actions delivering on the 10-Point Plan set out below. On 8 March 2023, one year following its activation, a Communication took stock of the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive in the context of the war in Ukraine and identified priority areas for the future, including through the work of the Solidarity Platform.
Delivering on the 10-Point Plan
The European Commission established a Temporary Registration Platform on 31 May 2022 in just six weeks since the beginning of Russian aggression to Ukraine. Through this platform, EU countries exchange information on beneficiaries of temporary protection and the national protection status of people who fled the war in Ukraine and found refuge in the EU.
The Solidarity Platform has followed an EU-level coordinated approach on the transport and information hubs that countries put in place along displacement routes:
- Border crossings
- Bus and train stations
- Large transit accommodation centres
The result of this coordinated action is the network of transportation and information hubs, compiled in a map with locations across the EU's Member States that show reception facilities, transfer hubs or offer further information about how to travel and stay in the EU.
The Commission launched an EU-wide communication campaign to inform people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine about their rights under protection, prevention of human trafficking and to tackle disinformation and misinformation. In addition, the Commission produced a testimonial video with the stories of three Ukrainian women who found a refuge in the EU. More than 3.5 million people have been reached so far.
The Commission also made available a dedicated EU helpline in Ukrainian and Russian. Communication and information actions are closely coordinated with EU Member States, the EU Agency for Asylum as well as other stakeholders, including the Ukrainian authorities and civil society organisations.
Alongside Member States, hundreds of thousands of Europeans have opened their homes to host displaced people from Ukraine. This has been an unprecedented act of solidarity. The European Commission is supporting EU countries to map reception capacity and accommodation.
To ensure sustainable housing options for those fleeing the war, the European Commission has presented an EU Guidance on ‘Safe Homes’. This Guidance includes key principles and practice to respond to the evolving needs in reception capacity. By collecting and reflecting on practices carried out in EU countries, regions, cities, civil society, foundations and by individuals, the Guidance provides examples how to overcome the challenges for those offering private accommodation.
- Factsheet: Safe Homes Initiative
In order to facilitate access to the EU labour market, the European Commission has launched the EU Talent Pool Pilot, a project that will allow beneficiaries of temporary protection to register and access a job seeking platform with more than 3 million job offers. The EU Talent Pool Pilot is implemented through the EURES platform.
In cooperation with national governments, EU agencies and international organisations, the Solidarity Platform focused on increasing overall preparedness at EU level for medium and long-term needs by developing contingency plans in case of increased arrivals from Ukraine and Moldova. Throughout the second half of 2022, the key priority was to prepare and be ready for winter, including preparation of the temporary reception facilities.
Child protection has been central to the EU’s support for persons fleeing the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Members of the Solidarity Platform continuously discuss and address specific challenges of reception and care for unaccompanied and separated children from Ukraine.
Dedicated Standard Operating Procedures were developed for transfers of unaccompanied minors from Moldova. Support is also provided to EU countries and relevant partners to adapt education systems, including through the publication of Guidance on integration in education, trainings, webinars and coordination of activities under the EU Education Support Group for Ukraine.
The majority of people fleeing the war in Ukraine are women and children. Travelling in these circumstances entails a risk of encountering traffickers.
The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, in close cooperation with EU countries, Agencies and international partners, developed a Common Anti-Trafficking Plan to address the risks of trafficking in human beings and support potential victims. The Solidarity Platform endorsed the plan on 11 May 2022.
Five objectives of the Common Anti-Trafficking plan:
- Strengthen awareness regarding risks of trafficking in human beings and setting up dedicated helplines
- Reinforce prevention against trafficking in human beings
- Enhancing law enforcement and judicial response to trafficking in human beings
- Improving early identification, support and protection of human trafficking victims
- Addressing the risks of trafficking in human beings in non-EU countries, especially Ukraine and Moldova
The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator monitors the situation and implements the plan in cooperation with the National Rapporteurs and Equivalent Mechanisms of EU countries and EU Agencies. The Commission provided an update on the implementation of the Plan and adopted the report on progress in the fight against trafficking in human beings on 19 December 2022.
The Commission pays special attention to the issue of human trafficking, and strongly encouraged EU countries in its Guidelines and Communication to take necessary measures. A webpage was created presenting practical tips on how to stay safe and avoid falling into the hands of traffickers.
Transfers of refugees from Ukraine in Moldova
Bordering Ukraine, Moldova has received many people fleeing the war. The Solidarity Platform coordinates transfers of refugees from Ukraine to Moldova and EU and Schengen Associated countries who pledged to welcome them. This helps reduce pressure on reception capacities in Moldova and avoid further congestion of reception capacities in EU countries that border Ukraine.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU countries and Schengen Associated Countries offered to transfer nearly 18 000 people from Moldova.
To facilitate the process of transfers from Moldova, the Commission developed standard operating procedures, including specific procedures for children in cooperation with EU countries, UNHCR, IOM and EU Agencies.
EU Air Transfers are free transportation by plane from Moldova to directly selected EU countries, organised in collaboration with UNHCR, IOM and EU Member States and the Republic of Moldova.
EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in Moldova
Together with the Moldovan authorities, the European Commission set up the EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in Moldova. The war in Ukraine generated greater internal security risks within the EU and Moldova. To pro-actively identify and combat these risks, the Hub works across six priority areas:
- Firearms trafficking
- Migrant smuggling
- Trafficking in human beings
- Preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism
- Drug trafficking
Bringing together representatives of Moldova’s and EU countries’ law enforcement officers, EU Agencies (Europol and Frontex) and the European Commission, the Hub is a unique platform that supports cooperation on internal security and border management. The Hub is based in Chișinău and coordinated by the Delegation of the European Union to Moldova.
The Hub organises regular meetings to address security-related issues. So far, meetings have been on the topic of firearms, the EU-Moldova cooperation on internal security and the prevention of trafficking in human beings.
The Commission is in close contact with its international partners, including the US, Canada, and the UK to:
- Exchange information on initiatives that provide protection to displaced persons fleeing Ukraine
- Assist countries facing most arrivals, including concrete support measures and offers of solidarity cooperation
- Coordinate global protection efforts
- Share updated situational awareness on Ukraine, discuss contingency planning and additional assistance
The cooperation with international partners takes place through dedicated meetings of the Solidarity Platform, as well as technical meetings on a more regular basis.
Almost half a million displaced people from Ukraine arrived in the UK, USA and Canada through their respective schemes.
The war in Ukraine also generated internal security implications for Europe to which the EU responded in real time.
EU actors quickly mobilised the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) to prevent organised crime and to tackle criminals trying to take advantage of the ongoing war.
Great attention is also given to tackle the risks and prevent trafficking in human beings by Europol, present in all EU countries bordering Ukraine and Moldova.
The internal security dialogue with Ukraine is ongoing and aims to enhance information exchange and to strengthen cooperation to address common security threats, such as trafficking in human beings, trafficking of firearms and counterterrorism. Moreover, Europol is providing operational support to all EU countries bordering Ukraine and Moldova.
Since the start of the invasion, the EU rapidly released adequate funding to EU countries to support people fleeing the war and assist with border management. Total additional funding provided by the EU through Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) and FAST-CARE packages amounts to EUR 13.6 billion. Moreover, EUR 400 million in Emergency Assistance funding was mobilised from Home Affairs Funds.
The Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission has coordinated the EU response through the EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint.
The Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint provides an operational framework to ensure:
- situational awareness and better preparedness,
- effective governance and timely response.
The Blueprint has been actively involved in gathering and reporting latest developments with EU Member States and Agencies. Information is collected and disseminated for better management of migration.
To help border guards of EU countries manage arrivals at the borders with Ukraine efficiently, while reducing the waiting time, but still maintaining a high level of security, on 2 March 2022 the Commission issued guidelines on external border management. The guidelines include provisions on:
- simplification of border controls at the EU's borders with Ukraine
- flexibility regarding entry conditions
- allowing crossings at temporary border crossing points, outside official border crossing points
- easy access for rescue services and humanitarian assistance
- personal belongings and pets
The guidelines strongly recommend EU countries to make use of the support of EU Agencies – with Frontex able to assist with the identification and registration of the people arriving, and Europol available to deploy officers supporting EU countries with secondary checks.
EU Agencies playing a key role on the ground
EU Agencies play a key role in assisting EU countries on the ground with border management, information-sharing, asylum registrations and preventing criminal networks from taking advantage of vulnerable people.
- 19 September 2023Commission’s proposal to extend temporary protection until March 2025
The European Commission proposed to further extend the temporary protection for people fleeing Russia's aggression against Ukraine from 4 March 2024 to 3 March 2025. This will provide certainty and support for more than 4 million persons enjoying protection across the EU.
- 8 March 2023One year of temporary protection for people fleeing Russian aggression against Ukraine
The European Commission adopted the Communication on Temporary Protection Directive. The Temporary Protection Directive has proven to be an essential instrument to provide immediate protection in the EU and it should remain part of the toolbox available to the European Union in the future.
- 10 October 2022Launch of EU Talent Pool Pilot
The European Commission launches the EU Talent Pool Pilot, a platform to facilitate labour integration of people fleeing the war in Ukraine and registered for Temporary Protection in EU countries.
- 30 September 2022EU coordinated approach on visa issuance and border controls for Russians
Following the announcement of Russian military mobilisation and increased security concerns for Europe, the Commission updates the guidelines on general visa issuance and releases new ones on controls of Russian citizens at the external borders.
- 9 September 2022EU fully suspends the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia. Commission presents new guidelines for visa issuance to Russian citizens
EU fully suspends the EU-Russia Visa Facilitation agreement, following war escalations. That means lengthier procedures and higher security scrutiny for Russian visa applicants. In the same day, the Commission released guidelines to EU countries and their consulates on the issuance of visas for Russian citizens.
- 11 July 2022EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in Moldova
Together with Moldovan authorities, the European Commission set up the EU Support Hub in Chișinău, Moldova, to support cooperation between the Commission, EU Agencies, EU countries and Moldova in the area of internal security and border management.
- 6 July 2022Safe Homes Guidance
Members of the Solidarity Platform endorsed the Safe Homes Guidance. It shares advice for EU countries how to provide safe and suitable accommodation for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
- 31 May 2022Temporary Protection Platform
The European Commission launches the Temporary Protection Platform for registration, where EU countries exchange information on people who registered for temporary protection.
- 16 May 2022Phone helpline
The European Commission launches a phone helpline for people displaced from Ukraine in Ukrainian and Russian language.
- 28 March 202210-Point Plan for stronger EU coordination
The Commission presents a 10-Point Plan for a stronger European coordination on welcoming people fleeing the war against Ukraine.
- 23 March 2022Commission Communication on welcoming people fleeing the war in Ukraine
The Commission releases a communication titled “Welcoming those fleeing war in Ukraine: Readying Europe to meet the needs” outlining how to manage the current refugee situation.
- 21 March 2022Guidelines on the use of the Temporary Protection Directive
The Commission issues Operational guidelines for EU countries on how to best implement the rules on temporary protection for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
- 17 March 2022Agreement with Moldova and Frontex cooperation
The EU and Moldova sign an agreement on border cooperation management with Frontex.
- 8 March 2022Commission Communication on European solidarity with refugees and those fleeing war in Ukraine
The Commission releases a communication titled “European solidarity with refugees and those fleeing war in Ukraine” outlining how to manage the current refugee situation.
- 4 March 2022Adoption of the Temporary Protection Directive
The EU Council adopts the Council Implementing Decision to grant temporary protection to those fleeing the war in Ukraine. With this Decision the Council also established the Solidarity Platform.
- 2 March 2022Proposal to activate the Temporary Protection Directive and Operational guidelines on external border management
To protect Ukrainian refugees from criminal threats, Europol has deployed operational teams to the frontline European countries neighboring Ukraine. Coming at the request of these countries, Europol now has operational teams in Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova, with an upcoming deployment planned to Hungary.
These teams, comprised of Europol specialists and guest officers, support the national authorities with secondary security checks and investigations at the EU external borders to identify criminals and terrorists trying to enter the EU in the refugee flow and exploit the situation. They also gather information in the field, which is used to develop criminal threat assessments and to support investigations.
Frontex – the EuropeanBorder and Coast Guard Agency, officers are present on the ground to support first entry EU countries. Two operational activities along the border with Ukraine are ongoing since 26 January (Joint Operation Terra and Joint Operation Coordination Points 2022).
n addition, to support Moldova in border management, the EU signed an agreement with Moldova on border management cooperation between Moldovan border guards and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) on 17 March 2022.Currently, Frontex officers help with:
- screening, registration and identity checks of people crossing the border
- border surveillance tasks
- help in the collection and exchange of information
To coordinate the Agency’s efforts to support EU countries with Ukraine-related asylum and reception needs, the European Agency for Asylum (EUAA) appointed the Ukraine Emergency Response Board (UERB) on 7 March 2022 and assists in the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive. EUAA is also present in Moldova, to provide support and information provision for people fleeing the war.
For more information on the deployments of EUAA teams to EU countries and other concrete actions visit the webpage on EUAA response to the war in Ukraine.