Temporary protection is a procedure of an exceptional character during an emergency situation that involves a mass influx of displaced persons. Individual refugee status determination is not immediately practicable in such a situation, because of the time and evidence required to do a full and fair evaluation of protection needs.
Under such conditions it may be necessary to provide a generalised form of protection to all members of a large group, until they are able to enter a regular refugee status determination process.
In July 2001 the EU introduced the Temporary Protection Directive, one of five legal instruments that make up the EU acquis (body of law) on asylum.
This Directive aims to harmonise temporary protection for displaced persons in cases of mass influx on the basis of solidarity between Member States. It applies to all Member States except Denmark and Ireland and came into force in December 2002. However, the temporary protection mechanism established by the Directive has not been used yet.
The directive envisages a number of obligations towards beneficiaries of temporary protection. These include: a residence permit for the entire duration of the stay (Article 8), access to employment (Article 12), access to suitable accommodation (Article 13), access to education for minors (Article 14) as well as the possibility of family reunification (Article 15).
ECRE favours the Directive as it stresses the exceptional character of temporary protection and preserves access to the asylum determination procedure. ECRE remains nevertheless concerned with certain points such as the fact that the Directive does not ease admission to the territory for persons arriving outside evacuation programmes, nor does it contain any general provision for procedures, and in particular it contains no reference to a right to appeal against the denial of temporary protection.