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(Jul 09, 2014)

On June 26, 2014, the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend EC Regulation No. 343/2003, the Dublin Regulation, which establishes that only one EU Member is responsible for handling each asylum application. It also lays down the criteria and ways to determine which Member State of the European Union is responsible for reviewing an application for international protection. (Council Regulation (EC) No. 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Asylum Application Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National, 2003 O.J. (l 50) 1, available at EUR-LEX.) The new proposal has more explicit rules for child asylum applicants. (Id.)

The criteria are designed to prevent abuse of the system by the filing of several applications by one individual and to avoid having people be sent from one Member State to another by national authorities. The criteria, which are applied in a hierarchical order, are based on: (a) the existence of a family in a Member State; (b) having a visa or residence permit in a Member State; and (c) entry into a Member State, whether illegally or not. (Press Release, European Commission, Clearer EU Rules for Unaccompanied Minors Seeking International Protection (June 26, 2014), EUROPA.)

The Dublin Regulation was recently revised in 2013. The 2013 Regulation has applied in all EU Member States since January 1, 2014, including in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark as well as in four non-EU countries which are part of the Schengen area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland). (Regulation EU No. 604/2013 of 26 June 2013 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person (recast), 2013 O.J. ( L180) 31, available at EUR-LEX.)

The Commission was prompted to amend the rules of the 2013 Dublin Regulation due to a large influx of unaccompanied children entering the EU. In 2013, approximately 12,690 minors with no family, siblings or relatives in the Member States of the European Union entered the EU illegally. Under current rules, a minor who applies for international protection in the territory of an EU Member State will have its application reviewed by the authorities of the Member State in which he is located and must remain in the same Member State until the asylum application process concludes. Exceptions are permitted when such an arrangement is not in the best interests of the child. (Clearer EU Rules for Unaccompanied Minors Seeking International Protection, supra.)

In addition, the Commission complied with the 2013 decision of the European Court of Justice, in which it held that the Member State responsible for reviewing an asylum applications filed in more than one Member State by an unaccompanied minor is the State where the minor is located and has filed an application. For this to apply, there must be no member of the minor's family legally present in another Member State. (Press Release No 71/13, Court of Justice of the European Union, Case C-648/11 MA, BT, DA v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, (June 6, 2013), EUROPA.)

The proposal's more explicit rules as far as minors are concerned, deal with several specific situations:

· when a minor has applied for international protection in several EU Members, including in the Member State where the minor currently resides, then that Member State will be responsible for handling its application;
· when a minor is present in a Member State, but has not filed an application for protection there, then that Member State must give the minor the chance to apply there;
· iff a minor decides to apply, then that minor must remain within the Member State that will be responsible for review of its case; and
· if the minor decides not to file an application in the Member State where he or she is located, the Member State in which the minor has recently applied for asylum will be responsible for handle the case, unless this is not tin the best interests of the child. (Id.)
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom made the following statement on the issue of unaccompanied minors entering the EU territory:
The rights of the child must always come first. We need clearer and more predictable EU asylum rules for unaccompanied minors. Our proposal will ensure that the best interests of minors will always prevail in the Dublin procedure and that these minors will not be needlessly transferred from one EU State to another. They will have quicker access to the procedures for determining international protection status. This will boost the effectiveness of our common asylum system for some of the most vulnerable of all. (Clearer EU Rules for Unaccompanied Minors Seeking International Protection, supra.)

Author: Theresa Papademetriou More by this author
Topic: Asylum More on this topic
 Child welfare More on this topic
 Immigration More on this topic
 Undocumented immigrants More on this topic
Jurisdiction: European Union More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 07/09/2014