The Dublin Regulation

The Dublin Regulation determines that the Member State where the person seeking protection first entered EU territory is responsible for examining his/her asylum claim. Only in certain cases, other factors such as the family situation or health reasons are taken into account.1 In the course of the European Refugee Crisis, this provision lead to strong criticism among those countries which were particularly challenged by vast numbers of asylum claims such as Italy or Greece.

These experiences have shown the need to better address situations of particular pressure, capacities and asylum systems.

Current Status of Dublin Regulation

The Dublin Regulation was last reformed 2013 and contains sound procedures for the protection of asylum seekers. Additionally it already provides an improvement of the system’s efficiency through the following aspects listed by the European Commission:2

Take a look at all aspects defined by the European Commission here
  • An early warning, preparedness and crisis management mechanism, geared to addressing the root dysfunctional causes of national asylum systems or problems stemming from particular pressures.
  • A series of provisions on protection of applicants and extended possibilities of reunifying them with relatives.
  • The possibility for appeals to suspend the execution of the transfer for the period when the appeal is judged, together with the guarantee of the right for a person to remain on the territory pending the decision of a court on the suspension of the transfer pending the appeal.
  • An obligation to ensure legal assistance free of charge upon request.
  • A single ground for detention in case of risk of absconding; strict limitation of the duration of detention.
  • The possibility for asylum seekers that could in some cases be considered irregular migrants and returned under the Return Directive, to be treated under the Dublin procedure – thus giving these persons more protection than the Return Directive.
  • An obligation to guarantee right to appeal against transfer decision.
  • More legal clarity of procedures between Member States – e.g. exhaustive and clearer deadlines. The entire Dublin procedure cannot last longer than 11 months to take charge of a person, or 9 months to take him/her back (except for absconding or where the person is imprisoned).

Proposal for Revision

Despite these adjustments, the large-scale and uncontrolled arrival of asylum seekers throughout the European Migrant Crisis in 2015 has exposed the weaknesses of the Dublin System, establishing the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application based primarily on the first point of irregular entry. Therefore, the European Commission proposed to revise the system and its underlying laws and conditions.

The proposals are the following:
  • Enhance the system’s capacity to determine a single Member State responsible for examining the application for international protection by removing the cessation of responsibility clauses and shortening time limits for take-charge requests and transfers
  • Ensure fair sharing of responsibility between Member States by complementing the current system with a corrective allocation mechanism in cases of disproportionate pressure
  • Discourage abuses and prevent secondary movements by requiring proportionate procedural and material consequences in case of non-compliance
  • Protect asylum seekers’ best interests with stronger guarantees for unaccompanied minors and a balanced extension of the definition of family members