Temporary Protection Directive
What is the Temporary Protection Directive?
The Temporary Protection Directive is an EU law that was introduced in 2001. The Directive created a special procedure to deal with a ‘mass influx’ of people in need of international protection. The Directive must be proposed by the EU Commission and accepted by a vote of the European Council.
The Directive was adopted into Irish law by Section 60 of the International Protection Act 2015.
How temporary protection is activated
If the Council votes in favour, it will issue a Council Decision. This introduces temporary protection in all the EU member states (not including Denmark).
The Decision must include the following information:
- The groups of people to whom temporary protection applies
- The date temporary protection takes effect
- Information from EU member states on their capacity to receive people
- Information from the EU Commission, the United National High Commission on Refugees (UNHRC) and other international organisations
What is included in the Directive?
The Directive sets out the minimum standards for giving protection to people in the event of a mass influx. Individual EU countries can grant additional rights, but cannot provide less than what is set out in the Directive.
The Directive applies to all EU countries except Denmark.
The Directive defines ‘mass influx’ as a ‘large number of displaced persons, who come from a specific country or geographical area.’ There is no minimum number of people needed for it to be considered a mass influx.
Ending the protection
Temporary protection is for one year. It automatically extends for 2 periods of 6 months after the first year, unless the EU Council votes to terminate the protection. After this, the EU Council can vote to extend it for a final year.
Who does temporary protection apply to?
The European Council Decision lists who must be granted protection, and may also include other categories of people who member states can give protection to, if they choose to do so.
The European Council Decision on 4 March 2022, which introduced temporary protection following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, applies to Ukrainian nationals living in Ukraine who were displaced on or after 24 February 2022.
It also applies to non-Ukrainian citizens who were living in Ukraine before 24 February with their Ukrainian family.
People who were living in Ukraine before 24 February as refugees, or with another form of international protection, or as a stateless person can also benefit from temporary protection. Family members of these groups are included if they lived in Ukraine before 24 February.
The Decision also says that people who were legally living in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 and who cannot safely return to their own country can benefit from temporary protection, or some other form of protection. The Decision gives EU member states discretion about how to do this.
People with short term residence in Ukraine (for example, people on a student visa) may also be granted temporary protection if they are unable to return to their country of nationality. They should be allowed enter the EU on humanitarian grounds, without the usual documentation, to make sure that they can travel home safely.
Refusals of temporary protection
Ireland can refuse temporary direction to a person if:
- There are serious reasons to consider that they have committed a war crime, a crime against peace, or a crime against humanity, or they have been found guilty of acts against the principles of the United Nations
- There are reasonable grounds to believe they are a danger to the security of the State
- They were convicted of a serious crime and the Minister for Justice believes they would be a danger to the community
- There are reasons to believe that they have committed a serious non-political crime before coming to Ireland
Rights under the Temporary Protection Directive
Once the protection is triggered, EU member states must give anyone who benefits from temporary protection a residence permit while the protection is in place.
Formalities regarding visas and entry to the country must be kept to a minimum. People who have temporary protection must get a document that clearly explains the provisions of temporary protection.
During the temporary protection period, EU member states must provide:
- Access to suitable accommodation
- Access to social welfare and medical care
- Access to education for children under 18
- The legal right to access employment
Adults are also allowed to take part in vocational training.
The EU member state may provide access to third level education, but this is not required under the Directive.
EU member states must allow immediate family members to reunite where possible. Immediate family members are:
- Spouses and partners
- Dependent children
- Other relatives who lived with the person before the events that led to the mass influx, as part of a family unit and were dependent on them at the time
EU member states must make sure that unaccompanied minors are placed with appropriate adults. This may be with the child’s relatives, a foster family, with the adult who was with the child when they fled the country, or in reception centres with suitable facilities for children.
The views of the child must be considered in accordance with their age and maturity.
Temporary protection and international protection (asylum)
People who have temporary protection can apply for international protection. However, it is not possible to be resident in Ireland with temporary protection and be an international protection applicant at the same time.
An international protection applicant must withdraw their application for international protection to benefit from temporary protection. If someone has temporary protection and they make an application for international protection, then they no longer have the benefits of temporary protection.
For example, a person with temporary protection has the right to work immediately. An international protection applicant can apply for permission to work only after 6 months if they have not received a decision in that time on their application for international protection.
You should get legal advice before making an application for international protection.
You can read about:
The European Commission has operational guidelines for the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive.
The following organisations can give you more advice.