When a Member State is prohibited from returning an asylum seeker under the Dublin II Regulation to a country where the applicant would be at risk of being ill-treated, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) held yesterday that the Member State is not obliged to assume responsibility for that application. In those circumstances, as already stated in 2011 in C-411/10 and C-493/10 N.S. & Others,and reiterated by the CJEU in its current ruling, the Member State intending to send the asylum seeker back to another country must continue to examine the responsibility criteria set out in the Dublin Regulation to see if another Member State can be made responsible. If no other country can be identified as responsible for examining the application, the Member State where the asylum seeker is located must assume responsibility for examining the application. The Member State must also assume responsibility if the process of determining responsibility takes ‘an unreasonable length of time’.
The applicant, Mr. Puid, is an Iranian national whose asylum application was rejected in Germany on the ground that he had transited via Greece, which was therefore deemed the country responsible under the Dublin II Regulation to examine his application. His appeal was successful due to systemic deficiencies in the reception conditions and procedures for asylum seekers in Greece. Germany examined the application and granted Mr. Puid refugee status. Despite this, the German court sought clarification from CJEU as to what happens when a Member State cannot return an applicant to the State initially identified as responsible.
Under the Dublin II Regulation, Member States can, at any time, voluntarily assume responsibility for examining an asylum application.