EU: Left in limbo: UNHCR study on the implementation of the Dublin Regulation

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Left in limbo: UNHCR study on the implementation of the Dublin Regulation
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"The objective of this study was to examine how the Dublin III Regulation is applied and to assess the extent to which the procedures, safeguards and guarantees under the Dublin III Regulation are implemented and deliver on the aims of determining swiftly the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection in accordance with the criteria under the Regulation. In this context, it should be acknowledged that there may be other ways of ensuring swift access to an asylum procedure; not least, through the taking charge of responsibility for the examination of an application for international protection on a discretionary basis by the Member State where an applicant is present. Such an approach may not only be quicker, but may also prove more efficient in terms of procedural and cost efficiency. Further, there may be situations where, despite a swift determination of responsibility under the Regulation, effective access to an asylum procedure is not ensured, because either the transfer to another Member State takes a long time or because the asylum system in the Member State determined as responsible is deficient.

With the prospect of further reform of the Dublin system being proposed, the research seeks to assess the extent to which the Dublin Regulation is implemented as well as the challenges that Member States face in effectively implementing it. The research aims, on the one hand, to formulate recommendations to maximise – in the interim – the potential of the Dublin III Regulation as it currently stands and provide, on the other hand, recommendations for the longer term to feed into ongoing discussions on the proposed reform.

For practical and other purposes, UNHCR limited the research to 9 of the 32 Member States that take part in the Dublin system: Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Norway, Poland, and the United Kingdom. While the study is confined to a limited number of Member States, its findings are indicative of wider challenges and discrepancies among all Member States applying the Dublin Regulation.

Furthermore, the study does not review the Dublin Regulation in its entirety. Instead, it looks at State practice in the application of the criteria for determining the Member State responsible that relate to children (Article 8) and family members (Articles 9 and 10), the dependency criteria (Article 16) and the discretionary clauses (Article 17) and in this way complements the evaluation of the implementation of the Dublin III Regulation carried out by the European Commission which was issued in March 2016.

The study focuses on assessing how the procedural safeguards and guarantees for applicants are applied in practice in the Dublin procedure, in particular as regards: the provision of information to applicants about their rights and obligations (Article 4), the opportunity for applicants to provide information to help determine the Member State responsible (Article 5), guarantees for children (Article 6), the notification of transfer decisions to applicants (Article 26(1)) and the modalities of transfers. In the context of transfers, the study looks also at whether applicants who are subject to transfer continue to benefit from the provision of reception conditions up until the point of their departure to the Member State responsible. It also looks at whether and how often detention (or an alternative to detention) is used for purposes of securing a transfer carried out in accordance with the Dublin Regulation (Article 28), including what criteria for defining a “risk of absconding” have been established in national law (Article 2(n)) and how those criteria are applied in practice. Finally, the study looks at the reasons for the low rate of successful transfers of applicants."

See the full report: Left in limbo: UNHCR study on the implementation of the Dublin Regulation (pdf) and: Executive summary (pdf)

See also the extensive: Recommendations (pdf) which cover:

1. Provision of information
2. Personal interview
3. Guarantees for children
4. Determining Member State responsibility for examining an application for international protection
5. Discretionary clauses
6. Transfers
7. Use of detention

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