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Clearer EU rules for unaccompanied minors

26 June 2014

Migrants on the Mediterranean from Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and other countries, aboard an Italian naval vessel. Photo: UNHCR / A. D'Amato

Last year, 12.690 unaccompanied minors submitted an asylum application in the EU. The European Commission is now proposing to clarify which Member State is responsible for examining such applications, to improve the situation of minor applicants who have no family in the EU.

"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", said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.

According to the proposal, which follows a recent judgment of the EU Court of Justice, a minor applicant for international protection will have his or her case examined by the Member State where he/she has lodged an application, and where he/she is present. The applicant will remain on the territory of that Member State during the examination application process, unless this is not in his/her best interests.

The 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.

"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", said Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The Commission hopes an agreement can be reached during the Italian Presidency.


Full press release with background. For more on migration issues, see the summary of the results in the Home Affairs field 2010-2014.