ECRE has published a policy paper which outlines the key principles that should be applied in the development and implementation of exit strategies from the current Temporary Protection (TP) regime for people displaced from Ukraine, which is currently valid until March 2025. The new paper also provides an analysis of the main options available to the EU and individual states.

February 2024 marks two years since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. As of December 2023, more than 6.3 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded globally, among which almost six million have registered for TP or similar national protection schemes in the EU and associated countries (EU+). The unprecedented activation of the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) has provided an efficient emergency response to address the immediate protection needs of those seeking safety in the EU. This legal tool has allowed rapid access to protection based on registration, the provision of socio-economic rights, and opportunities for individuals to choose the country of application for protection.

In ECRE’s view, if the continued management of the displacement from Ukraine is to be ensured, provisions already need to be made for what happens after March 2025 in line with four key principles: 1) informed consent of the affected, displaced population and the consideration of Ukrainian perspectives; 2) the need to maintain a range of options in parallel; 3) the necessity to attempt to reach a collective approach from European countries; and 4) respect for the human rights of those affected.

While no preference is expressed for a particular option or scenario within the return-stay binary, the policy paper highlights, inter alia, the options of (assisted) voluntary return to Ukraine, the extension of TP regimes, asylum applications and other protection statuses/rights to remain in national law, new protection statuses in EU law, and transition to work-based permits.

Concluding with a set of recommendations to the relevant actors, the policy paper argues that while it is developing a strategy and plans for the post-TPD period, the EU should use its existing legal tools to ensure the long-term prospects for those willing to return and for those who have to stay in EU Member States, including exploring the potential of new statuses. Contributing to the inclusive reconstruction of Ukraine on the one hand and developing scenarios for those planning to remain in the EU on the other will reduce the uncertainty among current TP beneficiaries and facilitate their integration in the host societies.