Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 21/04/22


Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik Visit Website


In 2021, Germany sent a total of 42,284 outgoing requests to other Member States, mainly to Greece (10,427) Italy (6,623) and France (4,416). Germany received 15,744 requests, mainly from France (7,810), Belgium (1,730) and the Netherlands (1,441). This marks a slight increase compared to 2020 where Germany had sent a total of 30,135 outgoing requests and received 17,253 incoming requests.

As regards transfers, they significantly decreased during COVID-19 due to the relevant restrictions. In 2021, a total of 2,656 outgoing transfers were carried out, and Germany received a total of 4,274 incoming transfers. This marks a slight decrease compared to 2020 where Germany had carried out 2,953 transfers and received 4,369 transfers.[1]

Dublin statistics: 2021

Outgoing procedure Incoming procedure
  Requests Transfers   Requests Transfers
Total 42,284 2,656 Total 15,744 4,274
Greece 10,427 1 France 7,810 1,850
Italy 6,623 287 Belgium 1,730 219
France 4,416 455 Netherlands 1,441 477
Romania 2,869 118 Switzerland 932 392
Poland 2,579 121 Italy 875 91

Source: Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 22.


Application of the Dublin criteria

The majority of outgoing Dublin requests was based on so-called “Eurodac hits” in 2020 (71.8%) and 2021 (69.9 %), compared to 64.6% in 2019.[2] Details on the criteria used for requests are only available for the outgoing requests which were based on “Eurodac hits”. In 2021 they referred to a total of 29,450requests based on Eurodac, out of which:

  • 20,442 (69.4%) after an application for international protection (CAT 1);[3]
  • 4,365 (14.8%) after apprehension upon illegal entry (CAT 2);[4]
  • 4,643 (15.8%) after apprehension for illegal stay (CAT 3).[5]

The number of transfers from other European countries to Germany was 4,274 in 2021, similar to 2020 (4,369) but a decrease in comparison to previous years (6,087 in 2019; 7,580 in 2018). Before and during the outbreak of Covid-19, there has been a particularly notable decrease in the numbers of transfers from Greece (531 transfers in 2021, 423 transfers in 2020 and 730 transfers in 2019 compared to 3,495 in 2018). The overwhelming majority of transfers from Greece (414 out of 423) were carried out on the basis of the family unity provisions of the Dublin Regulation. The German government provided following details on the transfers carried out from Greece:

Incoming Dublin transfers from Greece: 2021
Criterion Number of transfers
Unaccompanied children with family members or relatives: Article 8 224
Family members of beneficiaries of international protection: Article 9 92
Family members of asylum seekers: Article 10 60
Dependent persons: Article 16 6
Family reunification based on the humanitarian clause: Article 17(2) 145
Total 531

Source: Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 29.

One reason for the decrease in transfers from Greece in recent years is that the BAMF has been handling applications for family reunification under the Dublin regulation more restrictively in comparison to former years. In 2020, a total of 1,289 requests were sent from Greece, and 1,036 were rejected.[6] It has been reported that requests are often rejected for formal reasons (supposed expiry of deadlines for the request, alleged lack of evidence for family relationships etc.). In many cases, families therefore had to appeal to courts in order to oblige the BAMF to accept a transfer request from Greece.[7] In 2020, in 743 cases Greece remonstrated the rejection by the BAMF. In the same year, the BAMF accepted 328 of such remonstrations.[8] In 2021, the rejection rate decreased, with 377 out of 701 incoming requests being rejected. In 249 cases, Greece remonstrated the rejection, and in 174 cases the BAMF accepted responsibility after such a remonstration in 2021.[9]

The dependent persons and discretionary clauses

In 2021, the sovereignty clause was applied in 665 cases (compared to 1,083 cases in 2020), resulting in an asylum procedure being carried out in Germany.[10] Since government statistics on previous years do not contain exact information on the number of cases in which the humanitarian clause or the sovereignty clause has been used, a comparison over time is difficult. For 2019, available information only refers to 3,070 cases in 2019 in which either the use of the sovereignty clause or “de facto impediments to transfers” resulted in the asylum procedure being carried out in Germany.[11]



The Dublin Regulation is explicitly referred to as a ground for inadmissibility of an asylum application in the Asylum Act.[12] The examination of whether another state is responsible for carrying out the asylum procedure (either based on the Dublin Regulation or on the German “safe third country” rule) is an admissibility assessment and as such a part of the regular procedure. Thus, in the legal sense, the term “Dublin procedure” does not refer to a separate procedure in the German context, but merely to the shifting of responsibility for an asylum application within the administration (i.e. takeover of responsibility by the “Dublin Units” of the BAMF).

Fingerprints are usually taken from all asylum seekers on the day that the application is registered and they are subjected to Eurodac queries on a routine basis. Eurodac queries are the major ground for the initiation of Dublin procedures. No cases of asylum seekers refusing to be fingerprinted have been reported, only several cases where manipulation of fingerprints took place i.e. persons scraping off or etching their fingertips, making fingerprints unrecognisable.

In principle, only the BAMF is responsible for conducting the Dublin procedure. However, there are indications that there have also been Dublin procedures managed by the Federal Police in 2016 (see Access to the Territory).[13] The German government confirmed in August 2017 that Dublin procedures had been taking place at the border.[14] However, in contrast to earlier reports, the government explained in this statement that these Dublin procedures were not carried out by the Federal Police. According to the statement, the Federal Police informs the BAMF if there is evidence or if statements of an asylum seeker apprehended at the border indicate that another Dublin State might be responsible for the procedure. The Dublin procedure then is carried out by the BAMF which can issue a removal order. A possible forced return to the responsible Member State is carried out by the Federal Police. The Federal Police may also ask a court to issue a detention order if there is a considerable risk of “absconding”. This implies that asylum seekers are not sent to the “normal” reception centres but remain under the authority of the Federal Police for the whole duration of the Dublin procedure. Following a ruling by the Federal Court that detention is illegal for refusal of entry in the case of internal border controls, the Federal Police has adapted its practice and only orders detention when there is a “heightened risk of absconding”, according to the Federal Government.[15] Furthermore, in 2018 a new procedure was introduced at the Austrian-German border which enables the Federal Police to refuse entry at the border without applying the Dublin Regulation. This procedure is based on administrative agreements with Spain and Greece, but it has been contested in courts and apparently has not been applied in many cases (see Access to the territory and push backs).

In a ruling of the CJEU in Mengesteab on 26 July 2017, an important element concerning the time limits in the Dublin procedure has been clarified with an important impact on the handling of Dublin procedures by German authorities. Before this decision, German authorities held that the time limit for sending a request to another country would start with the formal lodging of an asylum application (and not the initial registration of the intention to apply for asylum, see section ‘Making and registering the application’). Furthermore, requests were frequently submitted to other states after the Dublin Regulation time limits for these requests had expired, in the hope that the other state would take charge of the procedure nevertheless. The CJEU made clear that both practices were incompatible with the Dublin Regulation: the time limit for Dublin requests thus starts with the moment that a Member State becomes aware of an asylum seeker’s intention to apply for asylum. If a Member State fails to submit a request within the time limits as defined in the Regulation, this Member State automatically becomes responsible for carrying out the procedure.[16]

Since the Mengesteab judgment, the BAMF bases the time limits for issuing a “take charge” request on the moment of registration and the issuance of an “arrival certificate”, not the moment when the application is lodged. It applies the same interpretation to incoming “take charge” requests and has often rejected such requests on the basis that the deadlines of the Regulation have been exceeded.[17]

Individualised guarantees

There is no general policy to require guarantees for vulnerable groups, although the Dublin Unit and local authorities make arrangements for the asylum seekers concerned e.g. to ensure the continuation of dialysis treatments, or to ensure separate accommodation of families in cases of domestic violence.[18] For an analysis of the examination of individualised guarantees and suspension of transfers in relation to specific countries see 2.6 Suspension of transfers.


Transfers under the Dublin Regulation are usually carried out as removals since no deadline is set for “voluntary departure” to the responsible Member State. Even if asylum seekers offer to leave Germany on their own, this is frequently not accepted and an escorted return is carried out instead.

Generally, in line with the Residence Act,[19] dates of removals were not previously announced to asylum seekers in Dublin procedures. The police performed unannounced visits to places of residence e.g. reception centres with a view to apprehending the person and proceed to the transfer. In 2019, a deviation from this general practice has been observed in AnkER centres in Bavaria. Following the issuance of the Dublin decision of the BAMF, the competent Central Aliens Office (Zentrale Ausländerbehörde, ZAB) notifies the applicant of the date and destination of the transfer and instructs him or her to be present in his or her room in the reception centre at a specified time for pick-up by the police, usually between 03:30 and 05:00. If the applicant is not found in his or her room at that time, the ZAB deems the person to have “absconded” and informs the BAMF accordingly in order for the extension of the transfer deadline from 6 to 18 months to be ordered under Article 29(2) of the Dublin Regulation. In August 2021, the Federal Administrative Court ruled this practice unlawful, as a sole absence at the time when the aliens’ office has ordered an applicant to be present cannot be interpreted as amounting to “absconding”. Rather, all circumstances of a case have to be taken into account.[20]

The extension of the deadline to 18 months in case of absconding has been heavily debated in the context of “church asylum” (Kirchenasyl), the temporary sanctuary offered by religious institutions to protect people facing removal from undue hardship. Guidelines of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) which took effect on 1 August 2018 state that an extension of the transfer deadline to 18 months for reasons of “absconding” can be ordered under a number of circumstances, including where: (a) church asylum is not notified on the day it is provided; (b) the file is not transmitted to the BAMF within a four-week period to justify grounds of hardship; or (c) church asylum was only provided after a negative decision from the BAMF.[21] These measures have been criticised by religious and refugee-supporting organisations, and run counter to the approach taken by courts. In a 2018 ruling, the Administrative High Court of Bavaria held, in line with the dominant position of domestic case law, that a person receiving church asylum whose whereabouts are reported to the BAMF cannot be considered as “absconding” from the Dublin procedure.[22] This was confirmed by a ruling of the Federal Administrative Court in 2020.[23] The BAMF has adapted its practice and has clarified in January 2021 that persons in “open church asylum” where their whereabouts are known are not considered to be absconding.[24] This led to an increase in reported cases: in 2021, a total of 822 cases of “church asylum” have been reported to the BAMF, up from 335 cases in 2020. In nine cases, the BAMF has decided to apply the sovereignty clause of the Dublin regulation and to conduct the asylum procedure in Germany.[25]

In its recent ruling in Jawo, the CJEU clarified that absconding “may be assumed that that is the case where the transfer cannot be carried out due to the fact that the applicant has left the accommodation allocated to him without informing the competent national authorities of his absence, provided that he has been informed of his obligations in that regard”.[26]

“Absconding” from the Dublin procedure also has repercussions on Reduction and Withdrawal of Reception Conditions, which are systematically applied in AnkER centres in Bavaria in such cases, and can also constitute a ground for ordering Detention.[27]

Practices as to detention before and during the Dublin procedure vary among the Federal States. Not all Federal States differentiate between Dublin transfers and removals to countries of origin in their detention statistics. Among those which do collect the data, between 1.5 % and 50 % of all Dublin transfers involved a form of detention in 2020.[28] If asylum seekers have already accessed the regular procedure, they must not be detained for the duration of the procedure. However, detention may be imposed once an application has finally been rejected as “inadmissible” because another country was found to be responsible for the asylum procedure. In these cases, the legal basis for ordering and prolongation of detention is the same as for other forms of detention pending removal. This implies that certain preconditions for the lawfulness of detention have to be fulfilled: In particular, any placing into custody under these circumstances should generally be ordered in advance by a judge, since it does not constitute a provisional arrest which may be authorised by a court at a later stage. However, a judge should generally not issue a detention order until the formal request to leave Germany – usually a part of the rejection of the asylum application – has been handed out to the person concerned and if sufficient grounds for detention exist. However, it has been alleged that these preconditions continue to be often ignored by authorities and courts in Dublin cases (in the same manner as in other cases of detention pending removal). It can be assumed, based on the comparable low number of places which are available in detention facilities, that most Dublin transfers take place within one day and therefore are preceded only by short-term arrests, in contrast to detention in a specialised facility which has to be ordered by a judge (see also Detention).

The use of excessive force, physical restraints, separation of families, humiliating treatment and sedative medication by police authorities in Dublin transfers were denounced in Berlin and Lower Saxony in 2018.[29] More recent observations from Bavaria corroborate coercive practices in the enforcement of Dublin transfers, including police raids with dogs in AnkER centres and handcuffing of asylum seekers, including pregnant women.[30] For 2020, the Federal government reports that 129 Dublin transfers involved use of means of physical restraint by the police.[31]

Personal interview

Before the outbreak of Covid-19, a personal interview was mandatory for the admissibility interview.[32]  The updated version of the BAMF’s internal directive for asylum procedures of July 2021 foresees the possibly of video interviews for the Dublin interview, for border procedures as well as for subsequent applications and revocation procedures.[33] Video interviews still require the presence of all involved persons on BAMF premises, albeit in different rooms or locations. There is no information as to whether video interviews were carried out in practice in 2020 and 2021 There is no consistent practice for interviews in Dublin procedures. For the authorities a Dublin procedure means that responsibilities are referred to the “Dublin units” of the BAMF, which may take place at various stages of the procedure. In practice, the Dublin and regular procedure are carried out simultaneously, therefore a regular interview is conducted according to the standards of the Regular Procedure: Personal Interview. In this context it has been noted that questions on the travel routes of asylum seekers may take up a considerable part of the interview, which may result in a shifting of focus away from the core issues of the personal interview.

If a Dublin procedure is initiated before the “regular” interview, the BAMF may only carry out a “personal conversation” (sometimes also referred to as the “Dublin interview”) with the asylum seeker. In this “conversation” only facts relevant for the Dublin procedure are established. Accordingly, the asylum seekers are not questioned on the reasons for their asylum applications. However, they should be given an opportunity to provide possible reasons why a removal to another Dublin state could be impeded (e.g. existence of relatives in Germany).


It is possible to lodge an appeal against a Dublin decision at an Administrative Court within 1 week of notification. This appeal has no automatic suspensive effect; suspensive effect can be restored only upon request to the court. Once an application to restore suspensive effect has been filed, the transfer to another Member State cannot take place until the court has decided on the request. The transfer can be executed only if the applicant misses the deadline or if the court rejects the application for suspensive effect.

Material requirements for a successful appeal remain difficult to fulfil and the way these requirements have to be defined in detail remains a highly controversial issue. For example, administrative courts in the Federal States continue to render diverging decisions with regard to the question of whether problems in the different Member States’ asylum systems amount to “systemic deficiencies” or not (see Suspension of Transfers).

In addition, serious practical difficulties result from the 7-day time limit for the necessary application to the court. This short deadline is often difficult to meet for asylum seekers since the application for suspensive effect has to be fully substantiated. To prepare such an application requires expert knowledge of the asylum law, but in the absence of systematic legal counselling asylum seekers regularly have to turn to a lawyer or to refugee counsellors for assistance. However, it might prove impossible for asylum seekers to make an appointment with lawyers or counsellors within the short timeframe. Even if they manage to contact a lawyer, it is still very difficult to produce a sufficiently substantiated application at such short notice. Therefore, it has been argued that the one-week period, although being an improvement compared to the previous situation, still does not provide for an effective remedy and might constitute a violation of the German Constitution.[34]

In May 2017, the Federal Constitutional Court established some general standards for the appeal procedure in Dublin cases and cases of removals of people who have been granted protection status in a third country. With regard to the case at hand, where the Administrative Court had rejected an application to restore suspensive effect of an appeal against a removal to Greece, the Court stated that the reception conditions in another country have to be assessed on a factual basis which is “reliable and sufficient, also concerning the amount [of available information].” This is necessary, in any case, if there were grounds to assume that inhuman or degrading treatment might take place following a removal. If sufficient information on the factual situation in another country was not available, suspensive effect of the appeal should be granted. In line with the general principle of judicial independence, the Constitutional Court did not define which kind of information was necessary to clarify the factual situation. It only pointed to the general obligation for authorities and courts to obtain information about conditions in other countries and to obtain individual guarantees, if necessary.[35]

The following table illustrates the number of court decisions on requests for urgent legal protection i.e. requests to restore suspensive effect of appeals in Dublin cases between January and November 2021. A decision to grant an interim measure does not necessarily mean that the court suspended a transfer because of serious individual risks or because of systemic deficiencies in another Dublin state. In many cases, interim measures can also be granted for formal or technical reasons (expiry of time-limits, formal errors in the authorities’ decision etc.).

Decisions on requests for suspensive effect in Dublin appeals as of 30 November 2021
Country Granting suspensive effect Refusing suspensive effect
Belgium 10 120
Bulgaria 49 85
Denmark 8 71
Estonia 0 7
Finland 2 9
France 54 474
Greece 56 14
Iceland 0 2
Italy 707 835
Croatia 81 198
Latvia 6 11
Lithuania 29 135
Luxemburg 0 16
Malta 8 15
Netherlands 27 114
Norway 3 7
Austria 26 261
Poland 89 226
Portugal 12 13
Romania 97 436
Sweden 48 290
Switzerland 11 50
Slovakia 1 9
Slovenia 9 53
Spain 48 222
Czech Republic 3 23
Hungary 2 2
Cyprus 0 3

Source: Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 25-26.

Legal assistance

There are no specific regulations for legal assistance in Dublin procedures; therefore the information given in relation to the section on Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance applies equally to the Dublin procedure.

It is possible to apply for legal aid for the appeal procedure. However, because of time constraints and because many of these cases are likely to fail the “merits test”, it is unusual for legal aid to be granted, with the possible exception of cases concerning certain Dublin countries such as Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, in which chances of success have to be rated higher due to the conflicting case law.


Suspension of transfers

Dublin transfers during the Covid-19 pandemic

With the outbreak of Covid-19, the BAMF first suspended Dublin transfers to Italy on 25 February 2020. On 23 March 2020, all Dublin transfers were suspended due to the numerous travel restrictions within the European Union. With the reopening of intra-European borders on 15 June 2020, transfers were gradually taken up again. A decree of the Federal Ministry of the interior provided that in a first step, transfers via land routes to neighbouring countries should be carried out, whereas flight transfers to other Member States would follow at a later stage. The BAMF has issued revocations to its previous suspension decision accordingly, for transfers to neighbouring countries in June and for further countries, including Greece and Italy, in July. [36] As of June 2021, transfers were still not taking place to Bulgaria, Slovenia and Latvia. Since 7 December 2021, transfers to and from Germany are only possible for persons with a negative Covid-19 test. [37]

With the suspension of transfers, the BAMF also suspended the time limit within which the transfer has to take place in order for Germany to not be responsible for the application.[38] This suspension was contested by the European Commission, stating that the Dublin regulation provides no legal basis for such a suspension,[39] as well as by neighbouring countries and German administrative courts. As of 4 August 2020, the BAMF decided to no longer hold on to the suspension. Persons whose transfer period had expired due to the Covid-19 related travel restrictions can enter the national asylum procedure. This did not apply however to applicants with an ongoing appeal procedure. [40] As of 20 May 2021, the transfer period had expired for a total of 9,329 persons due to the Covid-19 pandemic.[41] As a result of the suspensions, the number of transfers was significantly lower in 2020 compared to 2019, with 2,953 transfers in 2020 compared to 8,423 in 2019.

Suspension of transfers and individualised guarantees for specific Member States

Hungary: According to information provided by the BAMF, any Dublin request to the Hungarian authorities is accompanied by a request of individualised guarantees, i.e. that Dublin returnees will be treated in accordance with the Reception Conditions Directive and the Asylum Procedures Directive.[42] The German government informed Parliament in March 2019 that no individual guarantees had been provided by the Hungarian authorities. Hence, it can be concluded that the policy of seeking individual guarantees have led to a standstill in transfers to Hungary in practice. However, this has not led to a formal suspension of transfers or to a change of policy: German authorities continue to submit take charge requests to their Hungarian counterparts and to send requests to Hungary also in 2021. Whereas no Dublin transfers to Hungary have taken place between 11 April 2017 and the end of 2020,[43] one person was transferred to Hungary in 2021, with an individualised guarantee issued by the Hungarian authorities.[44] No further information is available on the case and it is unclear whether this presents a general change in practice on the side of either the German or the Hungarian authorities.

Greece: A formal suspension of transfers to Greece, which had been in place for several years, ended in March 2017.[45] Between 2010 and 2021, Germany sent a comparably high number of take charge requests to Greece (6,737 in 2020 and 10,427 in 2021, which represents 24.6 % of all outgoing requests of 2021).[46]  However, only 4 transfers were carried out in 2020 and only one in 2021 (compared to 20 in 2019).[47] In addition, 46 persons were transferred to Greece between August 2018 and May 2021 after apprehension at the German-Austrian border, on the basis of an administrative agreement between Germany and Greece (see Access to the Territory). The government asserts that vulnerable people are not being transferred since Dublin transfers have been taken up again in March 2017, and that individualised guarantees are sought for every case regarding reception, accommodation and the asylum procedure.[48] The BAMF was informed by the Greek authorities that all persons transferred were issued a temporary residence permit upon arrival in Greece and were accommodated either in reception centres (Camp Eleonas, Camp Shisto) or in private apartments. For transfers of persons who have received a protection status in Greece, see below.

Italy: The BAMF stated in March 2019 that it now carries out Dublin transfers to Italy without obstacles, after discontinuing a previous policy of requesting individual guarantees for families with children below the age of three.[49] Transfers to Italy are systematically ordered, including for vulnerable persons such as pregnant women or persons with severe mental health conditions.[50]

With reference to the CJEU decision in the case of Jawo vs. Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court reiterated in October 2019 that courts are obliged to consult objective, reliable and up-to-date sources of information when deciding on the legitimacy of Dublin transfers [51] The Constitutional Court overruled two decisions by the Administrative Court of Würzburg in which transfers to Italy had been declared permissible. The Constitutional Court pointed out that the lower court had not sufficiently examined the reception conditions in Italy and the possible risks upon return which might result from homelessness and from possible systemic deficiencies in the asylum system.

Furthermore, several hundred court cases have resulted in suspension of transfers to other countries by means of issuance of interim measures. At the same time, however, other courts have decided in favour of transfers to these countries, which is mainly due to the fact that the definition of requirements for a suspension of transfers remains highly controversial. For example, courts continue to render diverging decisions on the issue of whether problems in the Italian asylum system amount to “systemic deficiencies” or not, or whether the situation of Dublin returnees in Italy calls for individualised guarantees or not. Jurisprudence regarding transfers to Italy has remained inconsistent as of 2021.[52]

A detailed analysis of case law on this issue, which consists of hundreds of decisions, has not been possible within the scope of this report. By way of illustration, recent decisions concerning transfers of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection to selected Member States are listed below:

Examples of Administrative Court rulings on Dublin transfers and transfers of persons with protection status in another European country: 2021
Country Halting transfer Upholding transfer
Bulgaria Administrative Court of Hannover, 3 A 5416/19, 24 March 2021

Administrative Court of Freiburg, A 14 K 58/18, 5 July 2021

Administrative Court of Freiburg, A 14 K 1284/20, 07 September 2021

Administrative Court of Freiburg, A 14 K 1924/18, 17 September 2021

Administrative Court of Freiburg, A 14 K 1088/19, 22 September 2021

Administrative Court of Bayreuth , B 7 K 20.31318, 10 February 2021

Administrative Court of Bayreuth, B 7 K 20.30929, 10 February 2021

Administrative Court of Stuttgart, A 4 K 213/20, 25 February 2021




Administrative Court of Frankfurt, 9 K 5051/18.F.A, 20 August 2021

Administrative Court of Trier, 6 L 2133/21.TR, 1 July 2021

Administrative Court of Giessen, 8 L 4949/19.GI.A, 28 April 2021, 8 L 4540/19.GI.A, 6 May 2021

Administrative Court of Bremen, 6 K 1114/20, 23 April 2021

VGH (High Administrative Court) of Hesse, 3 A 539/20.A, 11 January 2021


Administrative Court of Saarland, 5 L 1624/21, 29 December 2021

Administrative Court of Berlin, 31 K 718.18 A, 22 February 2021, 28 K 84.18 A, 19 May 2021



Romania Administrative Court of Munich, A 13 K 183/19, 19 February 2021

Administrative Court Administrative Court of Cologne, 20 K 653 / 21.A, 19 April 2021

Administrative Court of Freiburg  A 14 K 6699/18, 27 September 2021

Administrative Court of Düsseldorf, 12 L 3 / 21.A, 14 January 2021

Administrative Court of Munich, M 30 S 21.50060, 26 January 2021

Administrative Court of Ansbach,            AN 17 S 21.50015, 23 February 2021

Source: Publicly available caselaw databases. See also the database of asyl.net.

In other cases, courts have stopped short of discussing these basic questions and have stopped transfers on individual grounds e.g. lack of adequate medical treatment for a rare disease in the Member State.

Suspension of transfers for beneficiaries of international protection in other Member States

Many court decisions which have been published in recent years were dealing with cases of persons who had been granted international protection in other European states such as Bulgaria, Greece or Italy. In many of these cases, transfers were suspended by courts on the grounds that a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment could not be excluded for beneficiaries of international protection in these countries. However, similarly to the existing case law on “systemic deficiencies”, the case law on this issue was not consistent and other courts upheld transfers of beneficiaries of international protection to Bulgaria, Greece or Italy.

In October 2019, the Federal Constitutional Court has defined some important standards concerning transfers of persons who have already been granted international protection in Greece, ruling that it is necessary to take into account the situation of an asylum seeker in Greece not only during the asylum procedure, but also after the possible granting of protection status. The Constitutional Court in the present case saw “concrete indications” that persons with protection status might be at risk of treatment which might violate Article 4 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. In line with the CJEU’s ruling in the case of Jawo,[53] the court held that authorities and courts in Germany had to examine this point when deciding about the possibility of a transfer.[54]

Since 2019, the BAMF has “de-prioritised” cases from applicants who had already been granted international protection in Greece, leaving applicants in legal limbo. In 2021, the Higher Administrative Courts of Lower Saxony and of North Rhine Westphalia ruled that persons with a protection status cannot be sent back to Greece as this would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.[55] The Higher Administrative Court of Lower Saxony ruled that the applicants, two unmarried sisters, were likely to be homeless upon return to Greece due to the lack of state and non-state assistance regarding housing, the lack of access to social benefits and the high administrative and practical hurdles to find gainful employment. The Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine Westphalia ruled that it would be highly unlikely for the applicants to find accommodation and gainful employment in Greece and that access to social benefits was only possible after two years of residence proven with a tax declaration. Regarding the threshold for human or degrading treatment, the Federal Administrative Court ruled in September 2021 that all available support to individuals, including support by NGOs and other non-state actors and the applicants’ own efforts are to be taken into account for the assessment of each individual situation.[56]

The Federal government states that it does not know whether actual removals are taking place since the Federal States are in charge of them.[57]  As of December 2021, approximately 39,000 asylum applications of persons who are likely to already have a protection in Greece were pending at the BAMF.[58] 19,805 applications for international protection were filed in 2021 by persons who had already been granted protection in Greece. Syrians and Afghans make up more than two thirds of these applicants.[59] In July 2021, the German and Greek ministers of the Interior signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at improving the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in Greece regarding accommodation, health care and the provision of necessary goods through a project implemented by the IOM and financed by EU and German funds.[60] In March 2022, it was reported that an agreement was reached, and that accordingly the BAMF was planning on starting to examine the pending cases.[61] A list of court cases dealing with transfers of beneficiaries of international protection can be found online.[62]

The situation of Dublin returnees

Germany received 4,274 transfers in 2021, compared to 4,369 in 2020 and 6,087 in 2019. Dublin transfers are usually carried out individually through commercial flights.

In 2020, the highest number of incoming requests towards Germany occurred from France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.[63] In addition, as mentioned in General, a high number of transfers to Germany took place from Greece under the family unity provisions of the Dublin Regulation. Upon arrival in Germany, persons are sent to the place where their relatives are staying and local authorities provide them accommodation and other related reception services.

There have been no reports of Dublin returnees facing difficulties in re-accessing an asylum procedure or facing any other problems after having been transferred to Germany. There is no uniform procedure for the reception and further treatment of Dublin returnees. If they had already applied for asylum in Germany, they are usually obliged to return to the region to which they had been assigned during the former asylum procedure in Germany. If their application had already been rejected by a final decision, it is possible for them to be placed in pre-removal detention upon return to Germany.[64]




[1] BAMF, Aktuelle Zahlen, December 2021, 10, available in German at https://bit.ly/3KBBalG. Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 32

[2] Federal Government, Responses to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 2, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 3, 19/17100, 20 February 2020, 3. For the preceding years, the numbers were 65.4% in 2018, 65.1% in 2017, 69.2% in 2016, 76% in 2015, 68.5% in 2014, 66.7% in 2013 and 72.8% in 2012, see Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left,19/8340, 13 March 2019, 2; 19/921, 26 February 2018, 19; 18/11262, 21 February 2017, 35; 18/7625, 22 February 2016, 32.

[3] Article 9 recast Eurodac Regulation.                                                                     

[4] Article 14 recast Eurodac Regulation.

[5] Article 17 recast Eurodac Regulation.

[6]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 44.

[7] Anne Pertsch, „Dublin reversed“ vor Gericht. Aktuelle Rechtsprechung zu Dublin-Familienzusammenführungen. Asylmagazin 8-9/2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2W0l8tM, 287-294.

[8] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 46.The number of remonstrations and acceptances cannot be seen in direct relation to each other since both refer to the number of remonstrations and acceptances within the year.

[9]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 30.

[10] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 10, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 9.

[11]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/17100, 20 February 2020, 12.

[12] Section 29(1)(a) Asylum Act.

[13]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 18/13428, 18 August 2017, 23-24.

[14]  Ibid.

[15] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 50-51. The Federal Court decision is available in German at https://bit.ly/3rfbXV9.   

[16] Case C-670/16 Mengesteab, Judgment of 26 July 2017. See Constantin Hruschka, ‘Zu EuGH, Mengesteab sowie Shiri: Dublin-Fristen unmittelbar wirksam und gerichtlich voll überprüfbar’, Asylmagazin 1-2/2018, 46-49.

[17] BAMF, Entscheiderbrief (newsletter for decision-makers) 9/2021, 5-6.

[18] Information provided by the BAMF, 1 August 2017.

[19]  Section 59(1) Residence Act.

[20]  Federal Administrative Court (BverwG), Decision 1 C 55.20, available in German at https://bit.ly/3rgh2wA

[21]  ECRE, The AnkER centres Implications for asylum procedures, reception and return, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2W7dICZ.

[22] AIDA, ‘Germany: Measures restricting “church asylum” contradict case law’, 31 August 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2V1pSg4; Informationsverbund Asyl und Migration, ‘Rechtsprechungsübersicht zum Kirchenasyl in Dublin-Fällen’, 27 February 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2F1XP9K.

[23] Federal Administrative Court (BverwG), Decision 1 B 19.20, available in German at https://bit.ly/33k6qEK

[24]BAMF, ‘Merkblatt Kirchenasyl im Kontext von Dublin-Verfahren’, availabe in German at https://bit.ly/3HY47WI. See also PRO ASYL, ‚ Bundesverwaltungsgericht entscheidet: Kein »Flüchtigsein« im offenen Kirchenasyl!‘, available in German at https://bit.ly/3fi5Rhd.

[25] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 18, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 25.

[26]  CJEU, Case C-163/17 Jawo, Judgment of 19 March 2019, para 70.

[27] ECRE, The AnkER centres Implications for asylum procedures, reception and return, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2W7dICZ.

[28] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left,19/31669, 04 August 2021, 117 et seq

[29] See Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/7401, 29 January 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2HwaiQQ.

[30] ECRE, The AnkER centres Implications for asylum procedures, reception and return, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2W7dICZ.

[31]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/27007, 25 February 2021, 38

[32]  Entscheiderbrief, 9/2013, 3.

[33]  BAMF, Dienstanweisung Asyl (internal directive for asylum procedures), 03 August 2021, 104

[34] Dominik Bender and Maria Bethke, “‘Dublin III‘, Eilrechtsschutz und das Comeback der Drittstaatenregelung.” Asylmagazin 11/2013, 362.

[35]  BverfG, Decision 2 BvR 157/17, 8 May 2017, asyl.net, available at: http://bit.ly/2G6rw9X.

[36] PRO ASYL, ‘Newsticker Coronavirus: Informationen für Geflüchtete und Unterstützer*innen‘, available in German at https://bit.ly/3n5bqEe 

[37] Transfers to Croatia took place “in limited ways only” according to the Federal Government, see Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 48, 49.

[38] ECRE, Information Sheet 28 May 2020: Covid-19 Measures Related to Asylum and Migration Across Europe, available at: https://bit.ly/3lMPtZD

[39]  European Commission, ‘COVID-19: Guidance on the implementation of relevant EU provisions in the area of asylum and return procedures and on resettlement’, 8, available at https://bit.ly/33gfTgl  

[40] Pro Asyl, ‘Praxishinweise zur aktuellen Aussetzung von Dublin-Überstellungen und Überstellungsfristen‘, available in German at https://bit.ly/3zV65EG

[41]   Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 47.

[42]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/921, 26 February 2018, 19.

[43] Preliminary remark to Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/17100, 20 February 2020, 1.

[44]   Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 47.

[45] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 27.

[46] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 22,.19/30849, 21 June 2021, 3.

[47]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 11, 19/17100, 20 February 2020, 59-60.

[48]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 27.

[49] Informationsverbund Asyl und Migration, ‘BAMF führt Überstellungen nach Italien wieder „uneingeschränkt“ durch’, 29 March 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2Uobbqu. For more information on the practice in previous years and corresponding jurisprudence see AIDA, Country Report Germany – Update on the year 2019, July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3hCWYOF, 36-37.

[50]  ECRE, The AnkER centres Implications for asylum procedures, reception and return, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2W7dICZ.

[51]  Bundesverfassungsgericht (BverfG), Decision 2 BvR 1380/19, 10 October 2019, asyl.net: M27757.

[52] Informationsverbund Asyl & Migraiton, ‘Das »Dublin-Verfahren«.Die Zulässigkeitskeitsprüfung im Asylverfahren bei »Dublin-Fällen« und »Anerkannten«‘, Available in German at https://bit.ly/3K4StLy

[53]  CJEU, Judgment in case C-163/17, Jawo, 19 March 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/304sXA2.

[54] Federal Constitutional Court, decision of 7 October 2019 – 2 BvR 721/19 – Asylmagazin 1-2/2020, S. 37 f. – asyl.net: M27758.

[55]  Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine West-Phalia, Decisions 11 A 1564/20.A and 11 A 2982/20.A of 21 and 26 January 2021 and Higher Administrative Court of Lower Saxony, Decisions 10 LB 244/20 and 10 LB 245/20, 19 April 2021, see also PRO ASYL, ‘Bett, Brot, Seife – Ein ferner Traum für Flüchtlinge in Griechenland’, available in German at https://bit.ly/3FzB4Y9

[56] Federal Administrative Court, Decision 1 C 3.21 of 07 September 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3pnuXk2.

[57]  Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 23, 24.

[58]  Information provided by the BAMF, 10 March 2022.

[59]   Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 20/861, 24 February 2022, 17.

[60] Federal Ministry of the Interior, ‘Gemeinsame Absichtserklärung zu Bemühungen um die Integration von Personen mit internationalem Schutzstatus in Griechenland’, available in German at at https://bit.ly/3KeKziO  

[61]  Infomigrants, ‘Germany to process frozen asylum claims of refugees from Greece’, 21 March 2022, available online at: https://bit.ly/3qH0fTN.

[62] The website is available in German at: https://www.asyl.net/recht/dublin-entscheidungen/. Search with the keyword “Anerkannte“ (recognised persons).

[63]   Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30849, 21 June 2021, 31.

[64]ECRE, The AnkER centres Implications for asylum procedures, reception and return, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2W7dICZ.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation