Migration and Home Affairs

Country responsible for asylum application (Dublin)

Every single asylum application lodged within EU territory needs to be examined - each EU country must be able to determine if and when it is responsible for handling an asylum claim. The objective of the Dublin Regulation is to ensure quick access to asylum procedures and the examination of an application on the merits by a single, clearly determined Member State.

What is the Dublin Regulation?

The Dublin Regulation establishes the Member State responsible for the examination of the asylum application. The criteria for establishing responsibility run, in hierarchical order, from family considerations, to recent possession of visa or residence permit in a Member State, to whether the applicant has entered EU irregularly, or regularly.

Key achievements

The Dublin III entered into force in July 2013 and it contains sound procedures for the protection of asylum applicants and improves the system’s efficiency through:

  • 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, such as compulsory personal interview, guarantees for minors (including a detailed description of the factors that should lay at the basis of assessing a child's best interests) 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).

Evaluation of Dublin III Regulation

In June 2015 the Commission committed studies on the external evaluation on the implementation of the Dublin III Regulation and an evaluation report in view of the reform of the Dublin system as foreseen in the European Agenda on Migration:

Towards a reform of the CEAS: Dublin IV Regulation Proposal

The large-scale, uncontrolled arrival of migrants and asylum seekers has put a strain not only on many Member States’ asylum systems, but also on the Common European Asylum System as a whole. The volume and concentration of arrivals has exposed in particular the weaknesses of the Dublin System, which establishes the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application based primarily on the first point of irregular entry.

For these reasons, the Commission is proposing to revise and replace the current asylum instruments to better manage migration flows and offer adequate protection to those in need, in line with the approach set out in the European Agenda for Migration.

In May 2016, as part of its proposed reform of the Common European Asylum System, the Commission presented a draft proposal to make the Dublin System more transparent and enhance its effectiveness, while providing a mechanism to deal with situations of disproportionate pressure on Member States' asylum systems, the Dublin IV Regulation.

The Commission proposal aims to:

  • Enhance the system's capacity to determine a single MS 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 MS 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;

Finally, the proposals include a fairness mechanism based on solidarity which includes a corrective allocation mechanism and which takes into account resettlement efforts made by a Member State to resettle those in need of international protection direct from a third country. This will acknowledge the importance of efforts to implement legal and safe pathways to Europe.

This new system would automatically establish when a country is handling a disproportionate number of asylum applications. It would do so by reference to a country's size and wealth. If one country receives disproportionate numbers above and beyond that reference (over 150% of the reference number), all further new applicants in that country would (regardless of nationality) be relocated, after an admissibility verification of their application, across the EU until the number of applications is back below that level. A Member State would also have the option to temporarily not take part in the reallocation. In that case, it would have to make a solidarity contribution of €250,000 for each applicant for whom it would otherwise have been responsible under the fairness mechanism, to the Member State that is reallocated the person instead.