Dublin

Greece

Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 10/06/21

Author

Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website

General

 

Dublin statistics: 2020

Outgoing procedure Incoming procedure
  Requests Accepted   Requests Accepted
Total 7,014 2,465 Total 8,869 284
Germany 2,703 528 Germany 5,831 163
United Kingdom 1,093 538 Croatia 925 9
France 885 67 Sweden 480 36
Switzerland 503 473 Belgium 412 11
Sweden 392 199 Italy 260 4
Italy 202 89 Slovenia 251
Belgium 179 90 Ireland 231 20
Finland 174 78 Norway 144 13
Netherlands 173 87 Netherlands 66 11
Austria 162 68 Switzerland 57 6
Spain 92 24 Finland 47 2
Malta 88 41 Malta 27 2

Source: Information provided by the Asylum Service, 31 March 2021

There has been a considerable increase of take-charge requests compared to the previous year. In 2020, Greece addressed 7,014 outgoing requests to other Member States under the Dublin Regulation, of which 1,922 were not sent within the three-month deadline. Out of them, 2,009 requests were rejected by the requested Member states, while 2,385 requests were accepted. Article 22 (7)[1] was enacted in 80 cases, raising the number of the finally accepted take-charge requests to 2,465. Compared to last year, the cases that were accepted were more than those rejected, thus returning to a pattern that had been established from the entry into force of the Dublin III Regulation until the year of 2018. By the end of 2020, the procedure is still pending for 277 cases that have been rejected, but no final decision has been issued.

Outgoing Dublin requests: 2015 – 2020
Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Number 1,073 4,886 9,784 5,211 5,459 7,014

Particularities have been observed in the handling of cases, based on the Member State to which an outgoing request is addressed. More specifically, all take charge requests are being made within the three-month deadline provided in the Regulation EU 604/2003, which starts counting from the moment an application for international protection is being officially registered before the Asylum Service.

However, based on the information shared by the Greek Dublin Unit, the German Authorities continue to implement the Mengesteab ruling of CJEU. Consequently, the German Dublin Unit is counting the above-mentioned deadline from the moment the applicant expressed her/ his will to seek international protection before the Police Authorities of the requesting Member State, meaning prior to the official registration of the request for international protection before the Asylum Service. In order to avoid receiving rejection letters based on this argument, the Greek Dublin Unit is trying to address the relevant take charge requests within the three-month time limit as of the time the will for international protection is expressed. For cases of family reunification requests that the Dublin Unit of Greece was informed three months after the person expressed her/his will to seek for international protection, but within three months from the registration of her/his claim, the Unit proceeds with the take charge request to the German Authorities under the non-discretionary Articles (8, 9, 10), considering the request to be addressed within the time limit set in the Regulation.

Another reason for rejecting a case is the interpretation of the CJEU judgment in the Joined Cases C‑47/17 and C‑48/17[2] by the Dublin Units of some Member States. According to the information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit, the German Authorities continue to implement this judgment during 2020, by accepting only one re-examination request for each case. In practice, it has been observed that many re-examination requests addressed to the German Dublin Unit remain unanswered for a long period of time, which exceeds the two-week time limit mentioned in the CJEU judgment. The final response usually comes only after a reminder is sent by the Greek Authorities. France, Sweden and the United Kingdom are among the Member States which also follow the interpretation of the CJEU judgment and reject cases on this ground. An extension of deadline is asked in case a DNA procedure is still pending and will not be completed within this timeframe. This request is accepted by almost all Member States, apart from Germany, which might reject a re-examination request on the basis that the results proving the family link were not submitted in due time.

For cases in which no final answer has ever being received and remain pending for a considerable period of time, the Greek Dublin Unit acts internally and refers them to the regular procedure.[3]

The Covid-19 pandemic affected the asylum procedure in general, and the family reunification procedure under the Regulation EU 604/2013 in particular. Access of asylum seekers to many Regional Asylum Offices was not allowed for a period of time, due to the implementation of the measures imposed by the Greek Government, aiming to minimize the spread of the COVID 19 virus. Consequently, registration appointments were cancelled and the submission of family reunification requests did not take place on time.

Apart from the procedure of submitting a reunification request, the nature of the responses received on take charge requests that were addressed throughout the year are also affected by the pandemic. GCR is aware of cases in which holding letters were sent by a number of requested Member States stating that the family reunification request could not be accepted, because the respective authorities were not able to finalize the assessment required within the time frame set in the Regulation, due to the lockdown.

The registration of family reunification requests has also been affected by another key factor, which is the imminent Brexit and the subsequent inability for someone to apply for family reunification under the Dublin Regulation as of the 11.00 pm GMT on 31 December 2020[4]. The Regional Asylum Offices across Greece, in coordination with the Greek Dublin Unit, prioritized the registration of applications and the submission of the relevant take charge request of people who wished to be reunited with family members or relatives residing in the United Kingdom.  A great number of such asylum applications were submitted in December of 2020, in an effort for the relevant outgoing requests to be made before the end of the year.

The application of the Dublin criteria

The majority of outgoing requests continue to take place in the context of family reunification:

Outgoing and incoming Dublin requests by criterion: 2020
Dublin III Regulation criterion Outgoing Incoming
 Family provisions: Articles 8-11 2,970 72
 Documentation: Articles 12 and 14 2 223
 Irregular entry: Article 13 1 2,296
 Dependent persons clause: Article 16 37 1
 Humanitarian clause: Article 17(2) 3,740 28
 “Take back”: Articles 18, 20(5) 264 6,249
 Total requests 7,014 8,869

Source: Asylum Service, 31 March 2021

Family unity

Out of 2,970 outgoing requests based on family reunification provisions in 2020, 1,655 were accepted by other Member States.[5]

In order for a “take charge” request to be addressed to the Member State where a family member or relative resides, the written consent of this relative is required, as well as documents proving her/his legal status in the receiving country (e.g. residence permit, asylum seeker’s card or other documents certifying the submission of an asylum application) and documentation bringing evidence of the family link (e.g. certificate of marriage, civil status, passport, ID). For cases of unaccompanied minors, the written consent of her or his guardian is required. Based on GCR’s experience, an outgoing request will not be sent until the written consent of the relative and the documents proving the legal status in the other Member State have been submitted to the Greek Dublin Unit.

On the contrary, according to information shared by the Greek Dublin Unit, the non-existence of documents proving the family relationship between the applicant and the family member or relative with whom she/he wishes to be reunited, is not a sufficient reason for the request not to be sent. In such cases, the availability of circumstantial evidence is assessed (e.g. photographs of the applicant and the sponsor, statement of the sponsor describing her/his relationship with the applicant, transcript of the sponsor’s interview before the authorities of the requested Member State, in which the details of the applicant are mentioned). These cases, though, have little chances to be accepted[6]. Germany is the only Member State which refuses to undertake responsibility for applicants who cannot prove the relationship with the person they wish to be reunited with, while other states are taking into consideration any circumstantial evidence and might proceed with the conduction of interviews with the family members/ relatives.

Furthermore, according to GCR’s experience, only documents in English seem to be taken into account by the Dublin Units of other Member States, thus making it more difficult for the applicants to provide those. The United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy are among the EU countries which request for the documents submitted to be translated in English. According to the latest information received by the Greek Dublin Unit, Afghan identification documents and documents provided by other nationals, such as Somali nationals, are not considered by Germany’s BAMF as enough evidence to prove the family link, given that they could be easily forged.[7] Despite the submission of the above-mentioned documents and circumstantial evidence, the German Authorities tend to reject more and more cases due to lack of DNA test results. Spain and Irish authorities though have taken it a step further, by rejecting every take charge request in which a DNA test result proving the relationship between the persons concerned is not available, regardless of the submission of identification documents. Therefore, the DNA procedure seems to be the only way for a family link to be considered as established by the particular Dublin Units. However, this is not the common practice of other Member States, which consider the conduction of the DNA test to be the last resort.

COVID-19 restrictions imposed throughout the year, have greatly affected the conduct of DNA tests. According to GCR’s experience, the procedure of finding Greek laboratories willing to proceed with the collection of the DNA sample, and then coordinate with the laboratory in the requested Member State which would also agree to proceed with the collection of the family member’s sample, has been proven to be extremely difficult and time-consuming. The transfer of the kit containing the sample was another impediment that had to be overcome, given the delay on courier transfers.

Subsequent separation of family members which entered the Greek territory together and applied for international protection before the competent authorities, was the subject of the Asylum Service’s circular 1/2020 which was implemented throughout the year. According to this circular, requests with which the reunification of family members or / and relatives who were subsequently separated is asked, will not be sent, and the case will be examined with the regular procedure. The same principle will apply for those cases in which a minor child was subsequently separated from its family, and travelled to another member state. The only exception is if the other Member State asks for a take charge request to be made. In any case, an assessment on the particularities of each case always precedes the referral to the regular procedure. Based on GCR’s experience, such requests have been accepted by the Swiss authorities, but not by the German ones. Germany has the tendency to reject these requests, arguing that the family was together at the time the application for international protection was lodged (Article 7 par. 2 of the Regulation EU 604/2013), adding that the humanitarian grounds of Article 17 (2) are not present, emphasizing at times, that further consideration of such cases would undermine the meaning of Dublin III Regulation, which is the prevention of secondary migration.

Family relationship is difficult to be established in cases of marriages by proxy. Such reunification requests might be rejected, based on the ground that such marriages are not recognizable by the receiving state’s domestic law.

Unaccompanied children

Family reunification requests of unaccompanied minors with family members or/ and relatives present in another EU country have been affected by the delay of the implementation of the guardianship system in Greece. According to the legal framework, the Public Prosecutor is the temporary guardian of all the unaccompanied minors residing in the Greek territory[8].  The Special Secretariat for the Protection of the Unaccompanied Minors (SSPUAM) of the Ministry of Migration & Asylum, in collaboration with the National Center for Social Solidarity (NCSS -ΕΚΚΑ), bears the responsibility to proceed to any necessary action aiming to the appointment of guardian to unaccompanied children[9]. Although the establishment of the Supervisory Board for the Guardianship of Unaccompanied Minors was to be established and be entered into force by March of 2020, the procedure has still not been completed by the end of the year. Temporary guardians have been appointed only for cases of unaccompanied minors who are eligible for the relocation scheme, and are authorized only to proceed with the necessary arrangements of the BIA and the security interviews. As a consequence, the minors’ access to legal assistance is limited.

The Best Interest Assessment tool, which was drafted and launched by the Greek Dublin Unit based on previous correspondence with other EU countries and was enhanced after the provision of inputs by international and local organizations and NGOs, is an indispensable element of take-charge requests of unaccompanied minors. In case the assessment cannot be included in the outgoing request, it is forwarded afterwards as a supplementary document. Omission of a best interest assessment, is a factor that has led in rejection of reunification requests of unaccompanied minors by several Member States, such as Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Germany, French, Malta, Belgium and Germany.[10] The validity of the assessment can be a reason for rejection by other countries, if the professional who has completed and signed the document is not officially appointed by the Public Prosecutor or the unaccompanied child itself[11].

However, the submission of the best interest assessment does not necessarily lead to the acceptance of a take charge request, since other elements are also taken into consideration by the requested Member States, regardless the fact that no such requirement is provided in Article 8 of the Regulation EU 604/2013. These elements are considered evidence of the relative’s ability (or inability) to support the minor applicant. GCR is aware of cases in which house contracts, photos of the place the minor will be accommodated in the relative’s house and proof of income have been requested in order to prove the family member’s or/ and relative’s ability to take care of the applicant. Social workers were also appointed by the authorities of member states, in order to contact the sponsor and the child and assess whether it would be on the child’s best interest to be reunited with her/his family member/ relative.

Another factor that is being taken into account while assessing the best interest of the minor, is the existence of a family member/ relative in the requesting Member State. Although the mere existence of this person does not change the legal status of the minor applicant as unaccompanied, requested member states, such as Germany, misinterpret the ‘best interest of the minor’ by considering him accompanied by her/his distant relative. Based on that argument, they reject family reunification requests of unaccompanied minors and therefore, prevent the child from being reunited with a closer family member[12]. Spain, on the other hand, does not proceed with the examination of take-charge requests of unaccompanied minors that are addressed based on Articles other than Article 8 of the Regulation. According to GCR’s knowledge on this issue, an outgoing request of a minor who wished to be reunited with his adult cousin, was not accepted, because, as explicitly mentioned in the rejection letter, the position of the Spain Unit is that all requests concerning minors are to be examined under the criterion of article 8; Article 17.2 in this particular case was not applicable as this is not considered a discretionary case for the Spanish authorities. Thus, the case was rejected, without the information included in the Best Interest Assessment Form being previously taken into account and no exact reason to be provided for the non-acceptance of the application, as required by the provisions of Article 17 (2) of the Regulation EU 604/2013.

The establishment of the family link in cases of unaccompanied minors is another factor that affects the reunification procedure. Applicants are not always able to provide the Authorities with identification documents. Therefore, the only solution remaining in order for the family relationship to be proven, is a DNA test. Throughout 2020, DNA tests were conducted for more than one hundred cases, with the expenses to be approximately €500 per person; an amount which might be difficult to be covered by the person of concern[13].  For some countries, this procedure is considered as mandatory in order for the family link to be established.  Spain has decided that the relationship between a minor applicant in Greece, who wishes to be reunited with her/his relative in the requested member state, can only be established after a DNA or blood test[14]. The notion behind this guideline, is that the Spanish Authorities have faced some issues in relation to take charge requests of unaccompanied minors with their relatives, in which reasonable doubts were raised regarding the authenticity of the documents that were meant to prove the alleged relationship.

Age assessment is another matter that might affect the outcome and the processing time of a reunification request. EU countries, such as Austria and Scandinavian member states, are questioning the age assessment results and tend to reject outgoing requests made by Greece, because the assessment procedure was not conducted according to the methods followed by the receiving member state[15].

The dependent persons and discretionary clauses

Outgoing take charge requests based on the humanitarian clause of Article 17(2) have almost been doubled compared to the previous year, reaching 3,740 in 2020. At the same time, outgoing requests based on Article 16 are 37 in total; more than 50% decrease compared to 2019. Throughout the year, 683 outgoing requests Article 17(2) have been accepted, while 746 have been rejected. From the take charge requests based on Article 16, 30 have been rejected, while only 11 have been finally accepted[16].

According to GCR’s knowledge, requests are sent under the humanitarian clause, either when Articles 8-11 and 16 are not applicable, or in cases for which the take charge request has been sent after the three-month time-frame, regardless the reason.

As mentioned below in Transfers, Article 17(2) has broadly been used by the Greek Dublin Unit for cases in which the deadline for transfer was not met due to COVID-19 restrictive measures. Based on the information shared by the Greek Dublin Unit, Sweden, Italy, the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany and Norway are among the EU countries for which the submission of a subsequent take charge request based on humanitarian grounds is considered a prerequisite, in order for the procedure to be ‘activated’ again. However, each Member State reacts in a different way in such occasions: Sweden asks for the submission of updated written consents and accepts the majority of the requests, while for some others the answer is still pending. The outgoing requests addressed to the United Kingdom and Italy are more ‘typical’ and accepted without the submission of new written consents. On the contrary, the German and Austrian authorities are stricter and tend to reject most of these requests, arguing that the humanitarian grounds are not present in these cases[17].

 The Relocation Scheme

In March of 2020, the Commission launched a relocation scheme, under which vulnerable people from Greece would be transferred to other EU Member States, aiming to support Greece in its efforts to cope with the critical situation. Unaccompanied children and children with severe medical conditions who are accompanied by their families, are the two categories of persons of concern who could be included in the program[18]. Eleven EU countries are participating in this scheme, among which are France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Bulgaria. The Commission is implementing this program with the assistance of UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF, following the eligibility criteria as set in the relevant SOPs. Homeless children, children living in precarious conditions, such as safe zone areas in camps and minors being previously detained, are considered eligible for the program.

The process consists of three phases[19]:

  • Phase 1: the preparatory phase, in which a list of identified unaccompanied minors is drafted and shared by the Special Secretary of Unaccompanied Minors with the Greek Asylum Service and then with EASO.
  • Phase 2: a Best Interest Assessment interview is taking place, during which the eligibility of each minor is assessed. The procedure is led by EASO with the support of UNCHR and the child protection partners. After the completion of the interview, the assessment and any other supportive documentation are submitted to the Greek Authorities and the receiving countries.
  • The third and last phase: the transfer of the person to the Member State which accepted the responsibility for her/him. Prior to this final step, some countries, such as France, hold another interview before the Consulate or Embassy of their country in Greece. This interview is called ‘security interview’.

Although the eligibility criteria might differ based on the Member State, some criteria seem to be unnegotiable. According to GCR’s knowledge, an applicant cannot be included to the program in case a family reunification request under the Dublin III Regulation is pending. Furthermore, in case an applicant has been accused or convicted of committing a crime, regardless the severity of it, will be considered ineligible.

By December of 2020, 2,209 asylum seekers and refugees have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries, such as Germany, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Luxemburg, Ireland, France, Bulgaria and Lithuania. Of these, 573 are unaccompanied children and 1,292 vulnerable families and adults.[20]

 

Procedure

The Dublin procedure is handled by the Dublin Unit of the Asylum Service in Athens. Regional Asylum Offices are competent for registering applications and thus potential Dublin cases, as well as for notifying applicants of decisions after the determination of the responsible Member State has been carried out. Regional Asylum Offices are also competent for receiving pending cases’ documents and uploading them to an online system of the Asylum Service where the Dublin Unit has access to.

As already mentioned in Determining authority and Regular Procedure, EASO also assists the authorities in the Dublin procedure. According to the 2020 Operational and Technical Assistance Plan agreed by EASO and Greece[21], EASO provided support to the Asylum Service for processing applications for international protection at first instance in mainland and in the islands, so as to improve, among others, the timely identification of Dublin cases and the quality of the files submitted to the Dublin Unit[22].

As mentioned in Dublin: General, during 2020, measures for the prevention of Covid-19 spreading were in place for most of the year, resulting in a much more complicated or in some cases hindered access to the Regional Asylum Offices. That meant that applications for international protection were difficult to get lodged (registered) and thus apply for family reunification, which in some cases resulted in exceeding the three-month deadline of Article 21[23]. Also, it was more difficult to submit documents for pending cases and conclude transfers as is mentioned below. In line with Article 21 of the Dublin III Regulation, where an asylum application has been lodged in Greece and the authorities consider that another Member State is responsible for examining the application, Greece must issue a request for that Member State to take charge of the applicant no later than three months after the lodging of the application. However, as noted in Dublin: General, following a change of practice on the part of the German Dublin Unit following the CJEU’s ruling in Mengesteab, the Greek Dublin Unit strives to send “take charge” requests within three months of the expression of the will to seek international protection, rather than of the lodging of the claim by the Asylum Service, although Greece considers the actual lodging of the application and not the expression of a will to seek asylum as the starting point of this three-month deadline[24].

Given the severe restrictions posed by other Member States on family reunification, as they were described in The application of the Dublin criteria the Unit consistently prepares for a rejection, and anticipates re-examination requests.[25] Other challenges identified by the Greek Dublin Unit during the reporting period include, among others, delays due to the pandemic (e.g. for conducting a DNA test when deemed necessary), lack of updated contact details with the applicant which results in delays in submitting documents, lack of legal aid for the applicants, DNA – tests’ translations and more[26].

227 days is the overall average time of the duration of the procedure between the lodging of the application and the actual transfer to the responsible Member State[27]. Also, during 2020 a change in statistical practices of the Dublin Unit has been noted, as the publication of monthly statistics of the Unit has stopped since March for it to be substituted by Monthly Reports[28] issued by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. These Reports include some but not all[29] of the data previously provided by the monthly statistics of the Greek Dublin Unit.

 Individualised guarantees

The Greek Dublin Unit requests individual guarantees on the reception conditions of the applicant and the asylum procedure to be followed.[30] In any event, in family reunification cases, the applicant is willing to be transferred there and additionally he or she relinquishes his or her right to appeal against the decision rejecting the asylum application as inadmissible

For children’s Best Interest Assessment, see more at The application of the Dublin criteria

 

Personal interview

Under the Dublin procedure, a personal interview is not always required.[31]

In practice, detailed personal Dublin interviews on the merits do not usually take place, when outgoing requests are pending for the transfer of asylum seekers under the family reunification procedure, although questions mostly relating to the Dublin procedure are almost always addressed to the applicant in an interview framework. The applicant identifies the family member with whom he or she desires to reunite and provides all the relevant contact details and documentation.

Questions relating to the Dublin procedure (e.g. on the presence of other family members in other Member States) are always addressed to the applicant during the Regular Procedure: Personal Interview examining his or her asylum claim. According to GCR’s experience, applicants who at this later stage, well after the three-month deadline, express their will to be reunited with a close family member in another EU Member State, are given the chance to apply for family reunification.  In several cases handled by GCR, the Dublin Unit strives to send the outgoing request as soon as possible, after the written consent and all necessary documents have been submitted.

Interviews in non-family reunification cases tend to be more detailed when it is ascertained that an asylum seeker, after being fingerprinted, has already applied for asylum in another EU Member State before Greece.

Transfers

During 2020, transfers under Dublin were subject to member states’ measures for the prevention of Covid-19 spreading and the relevant air travel restrictions, factors that led to significant delays in concluding them in due time. Transfers’ initial planning was being overturned throughout 2020, as there were no transfers between March and July -except for 2 group transfers- and during the second half of 2020 available flights were significantly limited[32].

More specifically, diminished availability of flights and destinations led to series of problems in handling Dublin transfers. For example, a major obstacle for family members to be reunited in the Nordic countries was the fact that Amsterdam airport announced that it would stop being used as a “transit” airport unless applicants travel with escorts[33]. This makes it difficult to travel to the Nordic countries, where there are no direct flights from October to March – with the exception of Stockholm, which has only one per week. On the latter flight, though, only four (4) people were accepted on board[34]. There have been no flights at all to Austria or Italy since November 2020 and regarding France there were no flights to Lyon or Nantes. A large number of flights of the last trimester of 2020 to Germany were canceled as well.

A second issue is that most, if not all, MS have now set strict time limits for the arrival of the applicants. Most of them require that the flight must have landed by 14:00, so that it is within the working hours of the intake local unit and recording of the arrival is possible. Upon special arrangement only the UK accepts arrivals until 15:30. However, transfers are only possible to London.

Thirdly, all MS ask for a Covid-19 molecular testing before departure (72 hours before) and some of them ask, additionally, for a rapid test 3 hours prior to departure. Given that applicants should be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure and the aforementioned restrictions in terms of arrival time that often mean that the applicant must take a morning flight of 7.00 am, taking the rapid test is rendered practically impossible. In other cases, the beneficiaries did not even have the opportunity and / or information that they had to take the test. Two (2) cases missed their flight to a MS because of these newly set perquisites. In this regard, the Greek Dublin Unit is trying to find solutions on a case by case basis and enhance cooperation with the Unit of other MS[35].

Last but not least, the Transfers Department of the Unit employs 9 people that are now overwhelmed with cases and have already a backlog of cases that the Unit is trying to manage[36]. This challenging situation regarding the capacity of the Greek Dublin Unit reflects also on the communication with the beneficiaries of legal aid projects, especially those whose cases are near the six-month deadline for transfer. This situation resulted in a joint complaint addressed, among others, to the Minister of Migration and Asylum and the Director of the Asylum Service signed by 15 NGOs working in Greece in early 2021[37].

All the above have led to significant delays in concluding the transfer within the six-month deadline of article 29 of the Regulation. As the pandemic is an unforeseen environment drastically influencing the modus operandi of the procedure until now, the vast majority of the delays have been handled in cooperation with other MS under a force majeure prism, although Dublin Units’ practices vary significantly among EU countries. There were several cases where the transfer did not take place within six months due to COVID-19 and the Unit had to resend an outgoing item under Article 17.2., as already mentioned in The dependent persons and discretionary clauses.

Travel costs for transfers were covered by the Asylum Service in 2020, as did in 2019.

A total of 1,923 transfers were completed in 2020 compared to 2,542 transfers in the previous year, resulting at an approximately 25% decrease. In the table below one can see the outgoing Dublin transfers per month in 2020, noting that there were zero (0) transfers in April, the month following the Covid-19 outbreak in Greece, whereas in May, June and August, transfers failed to exceed a double-digit number.

Outgoing Dublin transfers by month: 2020
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
154 165 188 0 73 37 411 80 184 205 219 207 1,923

Source: Asylum Service, 31 March 2021

 Incoming Dublin requests and transfers

Contrary to the “take charge requests” that are issued based on one of Dublin Regulation criteria, “take back requests” are issued for applicants who already have an ongoing, abandoned or rejected asylum application in a MS[38].

During 2020, Greek Dublin Unit received 8,869 incoming requests, with the majority of them (80%) being based on Article 18.1 (b) of the Regulation, followed by Article 13.1. Top 5 nationalities of these requests were citizens of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and of Palestinian origin[39]. The country that sent the most take back requests was Germany, followed by Croatia, Sweden, Belgium, Italy and more. Of these requests, 284 were accepted and approximately 7,335 were rejected[40].

Incoming Dublin requests by sending country: 2020
Country Total requests Accepted requests Refused requests
Germany 5,831 163 4,577
Croatia 925 9 843
Sweden 480 36 504
Belgium 412 11 400
Italy 260 4 250
Total 8,869 284 7,335

Regarding transfers, the Greek Dublin Unit reported to GCR that four (4) took place during the first trimester of 2020, just before the outbreak of the pandemic crisis in Greece.

 Appeal

According to the IPA, applications for international protection are declared inadmissible where the Dublin Regulation applies.[41] An applicant can lodge an appeal against a first instance decision rejecting an application as inadmissible due to the application of the Dublin Regulation within 15 days.[42] Such an appeal can also be directed against the transfer decision, which is incorporated in the inadmissibility decision.[43]

Contrary to other appeals against inadmissibility decisions, the appeal will have automatic suspensive effect.[44] Appeals against Dublin decisions will be examined by the Appeals Committees in single-judge format.[45]

 

 The situation of Dublin returnees

Transfers of asylum seekers from another Member State to Greece under the Dublin Regulation had been suspended since 2011, following the M.S.S. v. Belgium & Greece ruling of the ECtHR and the Joined Cases C-411/10 and C-493/10 N.S. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department ruling of the CJEU.[46] Following three Recommendations issued to Greece in the course of 2016,[47] and despite the fact that the Greek asylum and reception system remained under significant pressure, inter alia due to the closure of the so-called Balkan corridor and the launch of the EU-Turkey Statement, the European Commission issued a Fourth Recommendation on 8 December 2016 in favour of the resumption of Dublin returns to Greece, starting from 15 March 2017, without retroactive effect and only regarding asylum applicants who have entered Greece from 15 March 2017 onwards or for whom Greece is responsible from 15 March 2017 onwards under other Dublin criteria.[48] Persons belonging to vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied children are to be excluded from Dublin transfers, according to the Recommendation.[49]

The National Commission for Human Rights in a Statement of 19 December 2016, expressed its “grave concern” with regard to the Commission Recommendation and noted that “it should be recalled that all refugee reception and protection mechanisms in Greece are undergoing tremendous pressure… the GNCHR reiterates its established positions, insisting that the only possible and effective solution is the immediate modification of the EU migration policy and in particular of the Dublin system, which was proven to be inconsistent with the current needs and incompatible with the effective protection of human rights as well as the principles of solidarity and burden-sharing among the EU Member-States.”[50]

An interesting court case in Germany of January 2021[51] seems to set the protection threshold to a level that corresponds to the actual situation in Greece. According to this decision returns to Greece are expected to put migrants at serious risk of degrading treatment due to inadequate living conditions for beneficiaries of international protection. The court also noted that the COVID-19 situation and restrictions pose additional hardship for refugees, specifically to access the labour market[52]. This judgment seems to be in line with the case law of both the ECtHR and the CJEU that confirms that it is not necessary to show ‘systemic deficiencies’ for a transfer to be unlawful and that any source of risk is reason enough[53].

According to the Greek Dublin Unit, in the context of return, some MS (e.g. Germany and the Netherlands) ask for housing guarantees[54].

Finally, it should be mentioned that, applicants who are subject to the EU-Turkey statement and left the islands, despite the geographical restriction imposed, upon return in Greece from another Member State within the framework of the Dublin Regulation, will be returned to said island, in virtue of a 2016 police circular,[55] and their application will be examined under the fast track border procedure, which offers limited guarantees.[56]

 

 

[1]  «Failure to act within the two-month period mentioned in paragraph 1 and the one-month period mentioned in paragraph 6 shall be tantamount to accepting the request, and entail the obligation to take charge of the person, including the obligation to provide for proper arrangements for arrival.”

[2]  CJEU, Joined Cases C-47/17 and C-48/17, X v. Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie, Request for a preliminary ruling, Judgment of 13 November 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2KpcqiA.

[3]  Information provided by the Dublin Unit, 19 February 2021.

[4]  Home Office: Overview of family reunion options in the Immigration Rules, Published for Home Office staff on 31 December 2020

[5] Information provided by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, 31 March 2021.

[6] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit, 19 February 2021.

[7]  Ibid.

[8] Law 4554/2018, Chapter C.

[9] Art. 4 IPA (amended by the Law 4686/2020)

[10] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit, 19 February 2021.

[11] “Tipping the scales”: a joint Oxfam and GCR briefing paper, published in February of 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3mJHpsd 

[12] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit, 19 February 2021.

[13] “Tipping the scales”: a joint Oxfam and GCR briefing paper, published in February of 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3mJHpsd

[14] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit, 12.3.2021

[15] “Tipping the scales”: a joint Oxfam and GCR briefing paper, published in February of 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3mJHpsd

[16] Information provided by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, 31 March 2021.

[17] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit, 19 February 2021.

[18] European Commission: Relocation of unaccompanied children from Greece to Portugal and to Finland –Questions and answers, available at: https://bit.ly/2OGowty

[19]  UNHCR _ Explainer: Relocation of unaccompanied children from Greece to other EU countries, available at: https://bit.ly/2Rrhwln

[20] UNHCR Greece Factsheet December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dVLZiX

[21] EASO and Greece, 2020 Operational & Technical Assistance Plan, December 2019, available at:  https://bit.ly/3dROId9

[22]  Idem. p.14

[23] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit, 12.3.2021

[24]  Information provided to GCR by the Greek Dublin Unit on 23.02.2021

[25]  ECRE, ‘The Role of EASO Operations in National Asylum Systems’, 29 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2x2uzzN.

[26] Information provided to GCR by the Greek Dublin Unit on 12.03.2021

[27] Information provided by the Asylum Service, 31.3.2020

[28] Indicatively, one can go through the information provided in the Note of August 2020 here https://bit.ly/3mKS8CE 

[29] Information provided by RSA, 4 January   2021

[30] Information provided by the Dublin Unit, 31 January 2020.

[31]  Article 5 Dublin III Regulation.

[32] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit on 12.03.2021

[33] Ibid

Ibid. According to the same source, the Greek Dublin Unit has repeatedly suggested charter flights to resolve the issue, but is still not accepted.

[35]   Ibid.

[36]  Ibid.

[37]  Letter by GCR, which co-signed it (in Greek), 19.03.2021

[38]  European Parliamentary Research Service, Dublin Regulation on international protection applications, February 2020, available at:  https://bit.ly/2PLN19g, p.57

[39] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit on 12.03.2021

[40]  Data provided by the Asylum Service, 31.3.2021

[41] Article 84(1)(b) and Article 92(1)(b) IPA.

[42] Article 84(1)(b) and Article 92(1)(b) IPA.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Article 104(1) and (2)(a) IPA

[45] Article 116(2) IPA.

[46]ECtHR, M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, Application No. 30696/09, Judgment of 21 January 2011; CJEU, Joined Cases C-411/10 and C-493/10 N.S. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, Judgment of 21 December 2011. 

[47] Commission Recommendation of 10 February 2016, C(2016) 871; Commission Recommendation of 15 June 2016, C(2016) 2805; Commission Recommendation of 28 September 2016, C(2016) 6311.

[48] Commission Recommendation of 8 December 2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013, C(2016) 8525. For a critique, see Doctors of the World Greece, ‘Επανέναρξη των επιστροφών «Δουβλίνου»’, 14 December 2016, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2gHDKMJ; Amnesty International, ‘EU pressure on Greece for Dublin returns is “hypocritical”’, 8 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kG8Dzf; Human Rights Watch, ‘EU: Returns to Greece Put Refugees at Risk’, 10 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2hgVaNi; ECRE, GCR, Aitima and SolidarityNow, Letter to the President of the European Commission and the Greek Minister of Migration Policy “Re: Joint Action Plan on EU-Turkey Statement and resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece”, 15 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kGcc8P; National Commission for Human Rights, ‘Statement in response to the recommendation of the European Commission to reactivate the refugee return mechanism under the Dublin system’, 19 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kGi7us.

[49] Commission Recommendation C(2016) 8525, para 9. 

[50] National Commission for Human Rights, ‘Statement in response to the recommendation of the European Commission to reactivate the refugee return mechanism under the Dublin system’, 19 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kGi7us.

[51] High Administrative Courts (Oberverwaltungsgerichte / Verwaltungsgerichtshöfe), Applicant    (Eritrea) v Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 21/01/2021

[52] Full case summary can be found at EASO Case Law Database, available at: https://bit.ly/2PMoOzG

[53]European Parliamentary Research Service, Dublin Regulation on international protection     applications, February 2020, available at:  https://bit.ly/2PLN19g, p.57

[54] Information provided by the Greek Dublin Unit on 12.03.2021

[55] Police Circular No 1604/16/1195968, available at: https://bit.ly/3dVQ05t.

[56] See to this regard: RSA/PRO ASYLl, Legal Status and Living Conditions of a Syrian asylum-seeker upon his return to Greece under the Dublin Regulation, December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3fMEfzH.

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