Call us

Beyond relocations and secondary movements: Enhancing intra-EU mobility for refugees

Alberto-Horst Neidhardt

Date: 01/03/2023
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on 24 February 2022, resulted in the forced displacement of millions of civilians. To respond to the large-scale arrival of persons fleeing the war, the EU activated its Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) for the first time, giving people the right to protection and the possibility to enjoy their status and rights everywhere on the EU territory.

This de facto free-movement regime afforded to displaced Ukrainians is, in the eyes of many, one of the key advantages of the EU response to Ukraine’s humanitarian emergency and a rare display of EU unity on asylum matters.

This liberal ‘free-choice’ model stands in marked contrast to the limited intra-EU mobility rights afforded to all other refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. Only after five years of legal residence and by meeting additional income-related requirements set by the Long-term Residents Directive (LTRD) are other refugees allowed to move to a country different from that responsible for their asylum application under the Dublin system.

Amid this backdrop, this MEDAM Policy Study written by Alberto-Horst Neidhardt examines the advantages of the free choice-based model adopted to welcome refugees from Ukraine. It then analyses the current rules governing intra-EU mobility for refugees under the LTRD and looks at the potential added value of enhanced mobility for all refugees. Although it would not supplant relocations or resolve asymmetries in responsibility sharing, intra-EU mobility for refugees would improve their socioeconomic integration and generate systemic benefits for the EU asylum system. After examining the recent revisions advanced by the European Commission and possible contentious issues in the negotiations of the Parliament and Council, it concludes with targeted recommendations on the way forward.

The Mercator Dialogue on Migration and Asylum (MEDAM) is a research and consultation project that identifies and closes the gaps in existing research and develops research-based solutions for asylum and immigration policies, addressing the most pressing concerns of policymakers from an independent European perspective. The Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) and the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence have been research partners in MEDAM since the project started. The European Policy Centre (EPC) joined MEDAM at the beginning of 2020. 

Read the full paper here.
Photo credits:
Ben Gingell 2019 -

The latest from the EPC, right in your inbox
Sign up for our email newsletter
14-16 rue du Trône, 1000 Brussels, Belgium | Tel.: +32 (0)2 231 03 40
EU Transparency Register No. 
89632641000 47
Privacy PolicyUse of Cookies | Contact us | © 2019, European Policy Centre

edit afsluiten