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Malmström takes action on unaccompanied minors

6 May 2010

"I am as you know fully committed to the aim of creating a common EU asylum system. Today I want to focus on the most vulnerable group, the boys and girls coming all by themselves to Europe", said EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström earlier today when presenting the Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors.

Unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in the EU is a growing challenge. The statistics are not comprehensive since the only data available is on those minors unaccompanied by an adult who applies for asylum in an EU Member State; the total number of unaccompanied minors entering the EU is supposedly much higher. The number of asylum seekers has, however, increased over the last years. Data from Eurostat indicate that in 2009, 10 960 unaccompanied minors lodged applications for asylum in 22 Member States. That is an increase by 13 percent compared to the previous year.

"This is a very important European challenge. The Action Plan is the first step in finding a common EU approach on how to deal with this issue. The basic principle is that these are children, and that they should be treated as children. It is paramount that all EU Member States do what they can to protect them", said Cecilia Malmström.

The Action Plan proposes common standards for guardianship and legal representation, and it states that a decision on the future of each unaccompanied minor is taken by the competent authorities as soon as possible, preferably within six months. The Plan is based on ten principles that the EU is to base is common approach on. Three strands for action have been identified: prevention of unsafe migration and trafficking, reception and procedural guarantees in the EU and identification of durable solutions.

Read more on the Action Plan and the comparative EU study carried out by the European Migration Network below.