Margaritis Schinas, the vice-president of the European Commission announced that the European Commission proposed on Wednesday to activate a temporary protection scheme for Ukrainian refugees, granting residence, education, right to work.
Schinas said: “In a historically unprecedented move, the (European) Commission is today proposing to grant immediate protection in the EU for those fleeing Ukraine.”
“All those fleeing the war will be provided with a secure status and access to schools, medical care, and work,” he added.
The temporary scheme seeks to take away the burden from national asylum systems by creating a protection status with reduced formalities.
Under the proposal, all Ukrainian nationals, their family members, and residents of the country can get immediate protection that includes the right to work, residency, education, social welfare, and medical assistance.
EU member states have yet to adopt the proposal, but it is expected to be a formality after EU interior ministers already expressed support for the protection scheme at their extraordinary meeting on Sunday.
The EU executive body also recommended non-binding guidelines for EU member states on simplifying border controls, setting up temporary checkpoints, and allowing entry on humanitarian grounds even to those people who do not have a valid passport or visa with them.
The guidelines also give exceptions to customs duties, letting people bring pets and personal belongings more easily.
At least 650,000 people fled to the EU from Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian military invasion, according to the European Commission’s estimates.
Since Russia’s war on Ukraine began last Thursday, it has been met by outrage from the international community, with the EU, UK, and US implementing a range of economic sanctions on Russia.
The EU adopted last week three sanctions packages against Russia, targeting among others President Russian Vladimir Putin, top diplomat Sergey Lavrov, the Russian banking sector, and key state-owned companies.
On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially signed Ukraine’s request to join the EU.
So far, at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, have been killed and 400 others, including 26 children, injured in Ukraine, according to UN figures.