27 June 2014

On 26 June 2014, the European Commission published a proposal to amend Article 8(4) of the Dublin III Regulation, which determines the Member State responsible for examining the asylum application of an unaccompanied child.

Currently, Article 8(4) provides that, in the absence of a family member elsewhere in the EU, “the Member State responsible shall be that where the unaccompanied minor has lodged his or her application for international protection, provided that it is in the best interests of the minor”.

According to Commissioner Malmström, under the new proposal, which seeks to bring the Dublin Regulation into compliance with the C-648/11 MA & Others judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU, children applying for international protection will have their case examined in the Member State where they have lodged an application and where they are present. A child applicant will remain in that Member State while their claim is being examined, unless this is not in their best interests.

Commissioner Malmström further states that “[t]he proposal, amending the Dublin Regulation, provides legal certainty about the responsibility for examining applications from unaccompanied minors who have no family, siblings or relatives on EU territory. It covers cases when the minor has lodged multiple applications for international protection, including in the Member State where he or she is currently present. Also, it proposes that in cases when a minor is present in a Member State without having lodged an asylum application there, this Member State should provide him/her with the opportunity to lodge an application”.

The European Commission further clarifies that, under the proposed rules, if a child asylum seeker decides not to lodge an application in the Member State where they are present, the Member State responsible for examining the claim should be where their most recent application has been lodged, provided that this is in the best interests of the child. In such cases, the concerned Member States should cooperate in assessing the best interests of the child, in order to jointly establish the Member State responsible and avoid conflicts of interest. The European Commission also states that to facilitate cooperation among Member States and prevent abuse, Member States must inform each other when a State assumes responsibility for examining the application.

The European Commission proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. Commissioner Malmström has expressed that she hopes an agreement can be reached during the Italian Presidency, which runs from 1 July to the end of December 2014.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 27 June 2014.
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