The Council of the European Union established Directive 2001/55/EC in connection to the situation of displaced persons due to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Its aim was to establish minimum standards to be granted to a mass of displaced persons, to ensure a balance of the efforts made by the Member States involved, and to provide for an additional form of protection therein defined as temporary.
Article 2 establishes the "procedure of an exceptional nature which guarantees, in cases of mass influx or imminent mass influx of displaced persons from third countries who cannot return to their country of origin, immediate and temporary protection for displaced persons, in particular where there is also the risk that the asylum system cannot cope with this influx without prejudicial effects for its correct functioning, for the interests of the persons referred to in question and the other applicants." The protection is established for one year and can be extended for a further year.
It may also be achieved through the issuance of ad hoc residence permits (as well as accommodation, subsistence contributions, and medical care, where necessary) to make the prompt examination of individuals’ positions in order to determine applicability of international protection. The permits do not prejudice the possible recognition of refugee status and are aimed at dealing with cases of a massive influx of people from a specific country or geographical area.
In Italy, the Directive was implemented with the Decreto Legislativo 7 April 2003, no. 85. It is of note that Italy took similar action on its own initiative on the occasion of the events attributable to the so-called "Arab Spring" when, with the Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri of April 5, 2011, specific temporary protection measures were taken in favor of people fleeing from North African countries.
Even earlier, the Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri of May 12, 1999 established the issuance of residence permits for reasons of temporary protection in favor of people who had escaped from conflict zones of the Balkan area. Apart from the exception of the war in the former Yugoslavia and the uprising of the North African populations, Directive 2001/55 has not had an effective application in Italy. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict may be seen as a further exception.
The Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 was transposed in Italy with the Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri of March 28, 2022. It entered into force with the aim of guaranteeing uniform conditions for the execution of Directive 2001/55 with respect to Ukrainian citizens residing in Ukraine before February 24, 2022.
Included are citizens of third countries and stateless persons who enjoyed international protection or equivalent protection before the same date, as well as their family members. Additionally, this applies to citizens of third countries and stateless persons who were legally residing in Ukraine before February 24, 2022.
Further, the European Council, after having strongly condemned Russian military aggression against Ukraine, has established that the temporary protection referred to in Directive 2001/55 should be applied by the Member States (without prejudice to Denmark, as it did not participate in the adoption of the decision) to all the aforementioned subjects. This could represent an important step toward, and effective cohesion of, the States of the European Union with regard to the strategic issues that involve them, even if it is clear that such a process will have to be further developed.
In fact, we must bear in mind the challenges brought by the 59 conflicts (whether international or national, at high or low intensity) still underway; and by the increasingly evident environmental problems of climate change, with the consequent climate refugees.
Meanwhile, at the end of February 2023 87 persons died at sea trying to reach Italy.
For this reason, with Decreto Legge March 10, 2023, no. 20 Italy has established further measures against irregular immigration, has fixed stricter criteria for the special protection in favor of those not eligible for international protection and has expanded the flows for non-European workers.