Dublin procedures involving transfers to Greece have been formally suspended by the German Ministry of Interior since January 2011. However, with the latest decision of the Ministry of 30 December 2016 the suspension of Dublin procedures to Greece is set to end on 15 March 2017.
This is the date presented by the European Commission as the starting point for the reinstatement of Dublin procedures vis-à-vis Greece in its latest Recommendation. In accordance with the guidance of the Commission, Germany has clarified that vulnerable asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, will not be subject to such procedures at the moment.
The decision to reinstate transfers comes at a time when the Greek authorities face substantial challenges in ensuring an adequate reception system, resulting in unprecedentedly dire living conditions for refugees. On the islands, severe overcrowding and low winter temperatures have exposed people to health risks and suffering, while UNHCR has urged the authorities to rapidly transfer people out of the islands. On the mainland, despite ongoing winterisation efforts, living conditions in most camps remain dire, services very limited and of low quality and no Standard Operating Procedures or management accountability system is in place, as recalled by a joint letter by the Greek Council for Refugees, Aitima, SolidarityNow and ECRE.
Germany remains by far the largest operator of the Dublin system. It issued a total 44,288 requests to other countries in 2015 and 24,029 in the first half of 2016. Other Member States such as Belgium have also voiced support for a reinstatement of transfers to Greece, while Hungary has already initiated procedures to return asylum seekers thereto. In several cases, interim measures were successfully obtained by the European Court of Human Rights to halt transfers.
For further information:
- Greek Council for Refugees, Aitima, SolidarityNow & ECRE, Letter to the President of the European Commission and the Greek Minister for Migration Policy, 15 December 2016.
- AIDA, Greece: #2 European Union to resume Dublin procedures in March 2017, 8 December 2016.