Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 10/07/24


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Dublin statistics: 1 January – 31 December 2022

National data regarding requests in the Dublin procedure since 2021 are not available at the time of publication of the report, therefore the data bellow is based on the latest available statistics published by Eurostat.[1]

Outgoing procedure Incoming procedure
  Requests Transfers   Requests Transfers
Total 2,030 1,037 Total 8,737 0
Germany 458 218 Germany 6,079 0
Italy 390 148 Croatia 1,268 0
Switzerland 251 324 Belgium 445 0
France 215 70 Italy 374 0
Portugal 188 21 Sweden 144 0

Source: Eurostat.


Outgoing Dublin requests: 2016 – 2021
Year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Number 4,886 9,784 5,211 5,459 7,014 n/a

GCR does not currently have information regarding the practice of M-S following the CJEU ruling in the Mengesteab case and CJEU judgment in C-47/17 and C-48/17, while GCR’s request for relevant information for 2023 from the MoMA was not replied.

Based on GCR’s and other organisations’ experience, during 2022, as in previous years, there were specificities in the handling of cases, based on the Member State the outgoing request is addressed to. Specifically, the Greek Dublin Unit submits all take charge requests within the three-month time limit foreseen in the Regulation.[2] The time starts from the moment an application for international protection is officially registered with the Asylum Service. However, the German authorities, following the ruling of the CJEU in the Mengesteab case on 26 July 2017[3]  consider that the three-month time limit for sending a request to another country starts when the intention to apply for asylum is expressed; formal registration of the application with the Asylum Service is not required. To avoid rejection letters based on this argument, the Greek Dublin Unit tries to send the take charge requests within three-months from the expression of the intention to apply for asylum.

Regarding family reunification cases, if the Greek Dublin Unit is not informed within three months following the expression of the intention to apply for asylum, but is informed within three months from the registration of the asylum application, it sends the take charge request to the German authorities under the non-discretionary Articles (8, 9, 10), this request will meet the time limit set out in the Regulation.

Furthermore, some Member States’ interpretation of the CJEU judgment in the Joined Cases C-47/17 and C-48/17[4] has resulted in rejections of requests. Following this judgment, the German Dublin Unit accepts only one re-examination request for each case and refuses to keep cases open even when further medical tests for the establishment of the family link are pending. The German Dublin Unit claims that there is no possibility to deviate from the deadlines of the Dublin III Regulation. The Netherlands, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom are among the Member States which have also followed the same practice rejecting cases on this ground.

According to GCR’s knowledge, the German authorities continue to implement this judgment. NGOs noted that, during 2022, Swedish authorities also rejected cases on this ground.

In general, an extension is requested if a DNA procedure is pending and not expected to be completed within the two-week timeframe. This request is accepted by almost all the 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.

Regarding unanswered re-examination requests, the Greek Dublin Unit tries to address reminders to seek an official reply. Unanswered cases are eventually referred to the regular procedure.

Re-examination requests for several cases addressed to the German Dublin Unit remained unanswered long periodds of time which exceeded the two-week time frame mentioned in the CJEU judgment but were eventually answered following reminders by the Greek authorities.

Re-examination requests addressed to the French authorities remained unanswered for months, or even years. Based on GCR’s knowledge, there was no response to re-examination requests made in 2017, despite the efforts made by both the Greek authorities and NGOs. These cases are eventually examined on an ad hoc basis.

According to NGOs, during 2022 France and Sweden failed to reply to several re-examination requests within the time limit.[5]


Application of the Dublin criteria

To the knowledge of GCR, most outgoing requests of previous years took place in the context of family reunification, i.e., application of the family unity criteria. For a “take charge” request to be addressed to the Member State where a family member or a relative resides, the written consent of the family member is required, as well as documents proving the 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 relating to evidence of the family link (e.g., certificate of marriage, civil status, passport, ID).

For cases of unaccompanied minors, the written consent of the 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 their legal status in the other Member State is submitted to the Greek Dublin Unit.

On the other hand, inability to provide documents proving the family relationship between the applicant and the family member to the requested Member State is not a sufficient reason for the request not to be sent and/or received. 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 according to the Greek Dublin Unit.

Family unity is the main way for applicants to enter another Member State safely and legally. However, restrictive practices of requested states such as requirements for official translations of documents proving family links, sometimes unnecessary DNA tests to prove the applicant’s family ties, age assessments of unaccompanied children to be conducted according to the requested State’s methods, often result in the rejection of the ‘take charge’ requests.

Apart from the general criteria applied to every case falling under the Dublin III Regulation, nuances have been observed on the way the family unity criteria are applied by different Member States. Germany, for example, refused the responsibility for applicants who could not prove their relationship with the person they wished to be reunited with, while other countries were taking into consideration circumstantial evidence and may have conducted interviews with the family members/ relatives.

However, in 2022, according to NGOs, Germany accepted circumstantial evidence while France did not. Italy is reportedly more flexible than other Member States on that issue. Furthermore, only documents in English or the official language of the requested Member State are considered by the Dublin Units of some of the Member States. GCR could not obtain similar information as to the application of the family unity criteria in other Member States in 2023.

According to information provided 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 viable evidence to prove the family link, given that they could easily be forged. According to NGOs, in 2022 Germany and Sweden doubted the authenticity of Somali identification documents and asked for a DNA test. GCR could not obtain similar information for 2023.

Most of the Member States, consider the requirement of the DNA test to be the last resort, while other, such as Spain and Ireland request a DNA test regardless of the submission of identification documents. German Authorities have also rejected cases due to lack of DNA test results regardless of submission of identification documents and circumstantial evidence. Sweden and the Netherlands, requested for DNA results proving the kinship, especially regarding applications on grounds other than Article 9 and 10 Dublin III Regulation.

Since 2017, Dublin Units have increasingly refused requests in cases of subsequent separation of family members who entered Greece and applied for asylum prior to departure to another Member State on the basis that the family separation was ‘self-inflicted’ and was contrary to the best interests of the child. The Greek Authorities have partially adopted this reasoning.

According to a circular of the Asylum Service from January 2020, such requests should not be sent, and the cases should be referred to the regular procedure. The same would apply in cases where minors were subsequently separated from their family and travelled to another Member State. The only exception is when another Member State specifically asks for a take charge request.

In any case, an assessment of each case always precedes the referral to the regular procedure. Based on GCR’s experience, such requests have been accepted by the authorities of Sweden, Switzerland and Luxembourg while German Authorities rejected them arguing that the family was together at the time the application for international protection was lodged (Article 7 par. 2 Dublin III Regulation) and that the humanitarian grounds of Article 17 (2) do not apply. They also sometimes argue that further consideration of such cases would undermine the meaning of the Regulation, which is to ‘prevent secondary movement’.

However, in two cases dealt with in 2022, Germany accepted a “humanitarian clause” request for the reunification of parents with their two daughters in Germany, one of whom had arrived there after having submitted an asylum application in Greece,[6] as well the reunification of two brothers in a case of a subsequent separation.[7] In contrast, Belgium rejected a request based on Article 17(2) of the Regulation regarding a family with a minor son, on the basis that the mother’s departure from Greece after the family’s application had been submitted was not in the best interests of her child.[8] GCR is not aware of similar cases in 2023.

It is also difficult to establish a family relationship in cases of marriages by proxy, as they may not be recognised by the receiving State’s domestic law. GCR is aware of at least one such case of family reunification that was rejected by the German Authorities, because the applicant’s spouse was already present in the requested Member State’s territory when the marriage ceremony took place.

Unaccompanied children

On 22 July 2022, L 4960/2022 on the National Guardianship System and Framework of Accommodation of UAMs entered into force,[9] replacing former law L4554/2018 on guardianship, which was never implemented in practice.

New provisions on guardianship and accommodation were inserted in the third part of the Asylum Code regarding Reception. Under the new legislative provisions general competency was transferred from the National Centre for Social Solidarity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to the Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors (SSPUAM) now General Secretariat for Vulnerable Persons and Institutional Protection.

Under the new law, the provision of guardianship is relegated to a list of legal entities appointed by the Public Prosecutor (i.e., public entities, NGOs, international organizations) who collaborate with persons acting as guardians. The Public Prosecutor can also appoint a child’s family member or friend to be responsible for their everyday care.

At the end of October 2023, the NGOs METAdrasi and Praksis were announced by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum as the finalist candidates entrusted with the implementation of the National Guardianship scheme, following a public procurement procedure. The project officially begun on 1st November 2023 and, according to its design, the first two months consisted of preparatory actions (trainings, prioritization of cases, etc.) while, at the time of writing, guardians are deployed and started work. (See D Guarantees for vulnerable groups 4. Legal representation of unaccompanied children)

The number of applications for family reunification of unaccompanied minors before the Asylum Service in 2023 is not available.

In August 2018, the Greek Dublin Unit introduced the Best Interests Assessment (BIA) Form to support unaccompanied minors claims under Dublin Regulation 604/2013. The BIA Form aims to gather and assess all necessary information required by Member States to assess the family reunification requests of unaccompanied minors and is an indispensable element of take-charge requests. UNHCR, UNICEF and EASO contributed to the development of the BIA while the National Dublin Unit considered tools and reports used by many other bodies, local organizations and NGO’s.[10]

On 2 August 2023, the General Secretariat for Vulnerable Persons and Institutional Protection of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum launched the pilot implementation of a new Toolkit, in the framework of the project “Harmonization, Establishment and Certification of Best Interests Procedures”, with a view to establish standardized tools and harmonize the best interest assessment procedure of the child.

The aim of the project, in line with the National Strategy for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, is to harmonize the best interest procedures in Greece, by using standardized best interest assessment forms and by having the assessment process carried out by experienced and trained professionals.

The project has been implemented since November 2022, in cooperation with UNHCR and the European Union Agency for Asylum.[11]

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, although no such requirement is provided in Article 8 Dublin III Regulation. These elements are considered evidence of the relative’s ability to support the minor applicant. GCR is aware of cases in which house contracts, photos of the place where the minor will be accommodated in the relative’s house and proof of income have been requested to prove the family member’s or/and relative’s ability to take care of the applicant. According to NGOs, Italy requests house contract and tax declaration.

Other countries appoint social workers to contact the relative on their territory and the child with the aim to assess whether it would be in the child’s best interest to be reunited with the family member/ relative. According to NGOs, France always conducts interviews with the relatives residing in the country while in one case, Italian authorities exceptionally called for an interview with family members of the minor due to insufficient information available in the file.

Another factor that is being considered 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 a relative does not change the legal status of the minors as unaccompanied, some Member States misinterpret the best interest of the minors by considering them accompanied. Based on that argument, they reject family reunification requests of unaccompanied minors and therefore, prevent them from being reunited with a closer family member.

Although the best interest of the minor should be of primary consideration when examining a family reunification request, the requested Member States proceed with the assessment of the case under the Dublin III Regulation in all take charge requests addressed to them. Spain, for instance, does not examine requests of unaccompanied minors based on articles other than Article 8 of the Regulation. In one case handled by GCR, the Spanish Dublin Unit stated that all requests concerning minors are to be examined under the criteria of article 8, while Article 17(2) was not applicable in this case as this is not considered to be a discretionary case by the Spanish Authorities. Thus, the case was finally rejected in 2021, without due consideration of the Best Interest Assessment Form and no explanation for the rejection was provided as required under Article 17(2) of the Regulation EU 604/2013. The practice continued in 2022 and, according to NGOs, France adopted the same practice of not examining requests that are based on other grounds than Art 8 of the Regulation. GCR is not in a position to confirm whether this remains the case in 2023.

GCR is also aware of the case of an unaccompanied minor who applied to be reunited with his uncle who is a German citizen. His application was rejected in 2021 by the German authorities because, according to the rejection letter, the Dublin III Regulation is not applicable in such cases. Yet, this reasoning is contradictory to Article 8 of the Regulation, which requires for the family member or/ and relative to be legally present. The best interest of the minor and the documents submitted to support the case were not taken into consideration. However, in 2022, France accepted the family reunification request of a minor with his aunt who holds the French citizenship.[12] GCR is not aware of such cases in 2023.

When applicants are not able to provide identification documents, DNA tests is the only way to prove the family link. However, based on GCR’s experience in previous years, some countries require a DNA test as a rule to be able to assess family links.

Age assessments is another matter that might affect the outcome and the processing time of a reunification request. Based on GCR’s experience in previous years, Member States question the results of the age assessments of unaccompanied children which were not conducted according to their own methods.


The dependent persons and discretionary clauses

Outgoing requests under the humanitarian clause concern mainly dependent and vulnerable persons and are sent either when Articles 8-11 and 16 are not applicable or in cases where the three-month timeframe has expired regardless of the reason. Article 17(2) has been widely used for cases of subsequent separation as well as in the beginning of 2021 for cases in which the deadline for transfer was not met, on account of the added challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.


The relocation scheme

In March 2020, the Commission launched a relocation scheme, under which vulnerable people from Greece would be transferred to other EU Member States, in an effort to support Greece in managing the disproportionate pressure on its reception system. Unaccompanied children and children with severe medical conditions who were accompanied by their families, were the two categories of persons of concern who could be included in the programme,[13] if they have arrived in Greece before 1 March 2020 and if they have no possibility to be reunited with a family member in another Member State. Sixteen EU countries participated in this scheme, including France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Bulgaria. The Commission implemented this programme with the assistance of UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF, following the eligibility criteria set in the relevant SOPs, which GCR was not able to obtain. Homeless children, children living in precarious conditions, such as safe zone areas in camps and minors being previously detained, were considered eligible for the program.

The process for the relocation of UAM consisted of three phases:[14]

  • Phase 1: the preparatory phase, in which a list of identified unaccompanied minors was 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 takes place, during which the eligibility of each minor was assessed. The procedure was led by EASO with the support of UNHCR and the child protection partners. After the completion of the interview, the assessment and any other supportive documentation were submitted to the Greek Authorities and the receiving countries.
  • Phase 3 and last phase: the transfer of the person to the Member State which accepted the responsibility for them. Prior to this final step, some countries, such as France, used to hold another interview at their Consulate or Embassy in Greece. This interview is called ‘security interview’. Prior to the transfer, the selected minor was accommodated to transitional facilities run by IOM, for the necessary administrative procedures and medical examinations take place.

A minor’s case is not definitively excluded from the relocation programme should the case not be accepted by a Member State. On the contrary, the applicant is internally proposed to another State for relocation. A person is excluded only if they refuse in writing to be transferred to the Member State which has accepted responsibility for the case. This refusal is considered as evidence that the person does not wish to be included in the programme.

Although the eligibility criteria might differ based on the Member State, some criteria seemed to be unnegotiable. An applicant could not be included to the programme in cases where a family reunification request under the Dublin III Regulation is pending, or a decision on first instance regarding the application for international protection has already been issued by the Greek authorities. Furthermore, applicants who have been accused or convicted of committing a crime, regardless of its severity, would be considered ineligible for relocation. Criteria based on ethnicity, nationality, sex and age were not set.

During 2023, 635 individuals were relocated to other EU Member States under the voluntary relocation scheme as well as 55 unaccompanied minors during the first 3 months of 2023.[15] The scheme ended in March 2023, following the last departure of 15 children to Portugal. According to the MoMA, from the scheme’s operationalisation up to its end, a total of 1,368 unaccompanied children were safely transferred to other countries.

In June 2022, 21 European countries also agreed to establish a Voluntary Solidarity Mechanism (VSM), supported with EU funds, in order to address challenges facing the Mediterranean Member States (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain) through relocation to other European Union Member States and associated countries, or through financial contributions.[16]



There are no specific legal provisions in the Asylum Code regulating the Dublin procedure. Examination for the responsibility of another member state is a part of the regular procedure.

Applications are rejected as inadmissible if another member state is found responsible for the examination of an asylum claim (art 89 1(b) of the Asylum Code)

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 by 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, to which the Dublin Unit has access.

EUAA also assists the authorities in the Dublin procedure. According to the 2022-2024 Operational Plan with the Agency, amended in April 2022 to consider the changes in the operational context in light of the invasion of Ukraine,[17] EUAA provides support in processing outgoing requests and information requests • Support in processing incoming requests only after agreement on SOPs, training, tools and reporting • Support in enhancing processing capacity for transfers • Provision of interpretation services for information provision and other activities of the Dublin Unit (face face-to- face and remote).

Most administrative procedures, such as the submission of documentation, booking of appointments, receiving copies of an applicant’s file, are conducted only online. Physical presence in the context of Dublin procedures is only required at the registration stage, during which the asylum seeker is being fingerprinted, and must sign the relevant written consent.

Applications for international protection cannot be lodged if the person refuses to be fingerprinted. In case of refusal, the person will remain undocumented. The fingerprints are crosschecked in the police’s database for possible Eurodac hits. GCR is not aware of any person who refused to be fingerprinted.

Where an asylum application is being 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, in accordance with Article 21 of the Dublin III Regulation. However, 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 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.

The applicant is not officially informed by the Greek Dublin Unit of the fact that the request has been made, nor on the basis of what evidence. It is the asylum seekers legal representative who is following up the procedure and provides the applicant with feedback on the steps that have been made. Dublin Unit officers contact the applicant directly only if the case has been rejected, in order to request for supplementary documentation, which will be included in the re-examination request. In case of a final rejection, no written information is provided to the applicant. In practice, the case is internally referred to the regular procedure. On the contrary, if the reunification request is accepted, an inadmissibility decision mentioning that the requested Member State is responsible to examine the asylum application, based on the provisions of the Regulation (EU) 604/2013 is delivered to the applicant.

Given the severe restrictions posed by other Member States on family reunification, as above-described, the Dublin Unit consistently prepares for a rejection and anticipates re-examination requests.[18]

A change in statistical practices of the Dublin Unit was noted since 2020, as the publication of monthly statistics of the Unit stopped in March 2020 to be substituted by Monthly Reports issued by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.[19] These Reports include some but not all the data previously provided by the monthly statistics of the Greek Dublin Unit.


Individualised guarantees

During 2022, the Greek Dublin Unit continued to request individual guarantees concerning the reception conditions and access to the asylum procedure for Dublin returnees.[20] There is no data as to the practice in 2023.

With regards to take charge requests, most of the transfers concern family reunification cases and, therefore, the applicants have explicitly expressed their will to move to the third country.

For children’s Best Interest Assessment, see above, section on application of the Dublin criteria.



Based on GCR’s experience, transfers under the Dublin III Regulation are carried out by the Asylum Service, with the assistance of EUAA personnel. The Transfer Department of the Dublin Unit follows the transfer procedure. The department coordinates with the responsible travel agency for the tickets to be booked and sent to the applicants and/or their legal representative in due time. Before the transfer takes place, the Dublin Unit submits medical documents to the airline company, as well as the requested Member State. On the day of transfer, an employee from the Department of Foreign Affairs meets the applicants at the airport in order to provide them with a laissez-passer, help them with the check-in and boarding. The above-mentioned information regarding the transfer is forwarded to the asylum seekers by the Greek Dublin Unit, along with the tickets. Travel costs are covered by the Asylum Service.

During 2023, transfers of asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors, in the context of family reunification (“Dublin III”) were suspended due to the termination of the contract for the provision of air transport services and the delay of the procedure for the conclusion of the new one between the Department of Immigration and Asylum and the travel agency.

Following a report from an accommodation Structure for unaccompanied minors and the intervention of the Greek Ombudsman, the process was completed and transfers restarted.[21]

During May and June 2023, 66 outgoing transfers were implemented under the Dublin procedure. According to a notification on Ministry’s website “Statistics on Dublin Transfers are not currently available for the period of July 2023 – December 2023 due to the upgrade of the computer system carried out by the Services of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum.” There have been no other data available in relation to the numbers and types of requests for 2023 as of the publication of this report.[22]

Outgoing Dublin transfers by month: 2023
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
50 16 66

Source: Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Statistics available at: https://bit.ly/3uyzcLG.  


Personal interview

Questions relating to the Dublin procedure (e.g., on the presence of other family members in another Member States) are always addressed to the applicant during the Regular Procedure: Personal Interview examining the 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, have 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.



According to the Asylum code, applications for international protection are declared inadmissible where the Dublin Regulation applies.[23] An applicant can lodge an appeal before the Independent Appeals Committees under the Appeals Authority against a first instance decision rejecting an application as inadmissible due to the application of the Dublin Regulation within 15 days.[24] Such an appeal can also be directed against the transfer decision, which is incorporated in the inadmissibility decision.[25]


Legal assistance

Access to free legal assistance and representation in the context of a Dublin procedure is available under the same conditions and limitations described in Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance. No state funded free legal aid is provided in first instance, including Dublin cases. The same problems and obstacles described in the regular procedure exist in the context of the Dublin procedure, with NGOs trying in practice to cover this field as well.

As concerns family reunification cases, limited access to legal assistance affects the proper preparation of the case file as it is the applicant who bears the responsibility for submitting the required documents for the Dublin Unit to establish a take charge request, such as proof of family links. Nevertheless, in GCR’s experience, the Dublin Unit officers make every effort to notify applicants on time for the submission of any missing document before the expiry of the deadline.

Suspension of transfers

To the knowledge of the GRC, there is no suspension of transfers to any Member State in either policy or jurisprudence.


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.[26]

Following three recommendations issued to Greece in the course of 2016,[27] and despite the fact that the Greek asylum and reception system remained under significant pressure, due to the closure of the so-called Balkan corridor and the adoption of the EU-Türkiye 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.[28] Persons belonging to vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied children are to be excluded from Dublin transfers, according to the Recommendation.[29]

The National Commission for Human Rights in a Statement dated 19 December 2016, expressed its “grave concern” with regard to the Commission Recommendation and noted that:[30]

‘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 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.’

An interesting court rulling was issued in Germany in January 2021 and sets the protection threshold to a level that corresponds to the actual situation in Greece.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

However, overall, domestic european courts have taken diverging stances regarding transfers to Greece.[34] In 2021, High Administrative Courts in Germany, the Dutch Council of State and the Belgium Council on Alien Litigation Law all ruled that returning beneficiaries of international protection to Greece runs the risk of reaching the threshold of Article 3 ECHR.[35] While still not formally suspending transfers, the Austrian Constitutional Court and High Administrative Court nevertheless both ruled that such transfers have to be assessed thoroughly, especially vis-à-vis access to social services upon return.[36] On the other hand, courts in both Switzerland and Norway have held that returning beneficiaries of international protection to Greece does not infringe the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment.[37]

Dublin returnees face serious difficulties both in re-accessing the asylum procedure and reception conditions (which are virtually inexistent) upon return.[38] In fact, returnees face the risk of being subjected to onward refoulement to Türkiye, following the designation of Türkiye as a safe third country in 2021 (see Safe third country concept).

In another case, a beneficiary of international protection was returned from Germany to Greece at the beginning of July 2021. The asylum application which the beneficiary submitted before the German Authorities was rejected as inadmissible, since his case had already been examined by the Greek Asylum Service, which recognised him as a refugee, even though the person was never informed about it. Although the Court accepted that living conditions for beneficiaries of international protection in Greece are “undoubtedly harsh” also taking into account that beneficiaries are not entitled to accommodation as provided in the case of asylum seekers, it assumed that healthy, single and young individuals would nevertheless somehow be able to survive under these conditions. Upon his return, the beneficiary was handed to the Airport Police Department and was provided with a 10-day duration police note. According to this note, he should visit the Asylum Service to proceed with his case. Eight months after his arrival into Greece, no residence permit has been delivered, no health insurance and tax numbers have been issued, no action for accommodation has been taken due to lack of identification documents.[39]

Finally, it should be mentioned that applicants who are subject to the EU-Türkiye statement and left the islands in breach of the geographical restriction imposed on them, will be returned to said island upon return to Greece from another Member State within the framework of the Dublin Regulation, by virtue of a 2016 police circular.[40] Their application will be examined under the fast-track border procedure, which offers limited guarantees.[41]

For further information about the situation of beneficiaries of international protection returned to Greece, see ‘Return of beneficiaries of international protection to Greece’ under Housing.




[1] It should be noted that Eurostat statistics related to the implementation of the Dublin III Regulation were last updated in July 2023 and cover the year 2022. According to Eurostat, the next planned statistical update is scheduled for July 2024 and should, presumably, cover the year 2023. See Eurostat, Statistics on countries responsible for asylum applications (Dublin Regulation), July 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3z5iLwd.  

[2] Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast).

[3] CJEU, C-670/16, Tsegezab Mengesteab v Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Judgment of 26 July 2017, available at: https://bit.ly/3MXWEuK.

[4] 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.

[5] Information provided by The HOME Project (web page: https://bit.ly/420Utwa) and European Expression (web page: https://bit.ly/42ZtKkX)

[6] Information provided by RSA.

[7] Information provided by European Expression.

[8] Information provided by RSA.

[9] L 4960/2022 National Guardianship System and Framework of Accommodation of UAMs and other provisions under the jurisdiction of the MoMA.

[10] For more, AIDA – Country Report: Greece, 2022 Update, June 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3PUOVk9, p. 72 et.seq.

[11] See the MoMA’s website under “Dublin III Regulation” at: https://bit.ly/3Vy0MWZ; MoMA, General Secretariat for Vulnerable Persons and Institutional Protection of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum launches new Toolkit on Best Interests Procedures, 18 August 2023, available at: https://tinyurl.com/4za42e7a

[12] Information provided by the NGO European Expression.

[13] European Commission, Relocation of unaccompanied children from Greece to Portugal and to Finland –Questions and answers, 7 July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2OGowty.

[14] UNHCR, Explainer: Relocation of unaccompanied children from Greece to other EU countries, 25 August 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2Rrhwln

[15] Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Statistics, available at: https://bit.ly/3OuNZm9.

[16] French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, First step in the gradual implementation of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum: modus operandi of a voluntary solidarity mechanism, 22 June 2022, available at: https://tinyurl.com/mcm778wy.

[17] EUAA, Operational Plan 2022-2024 agreed by the European Union Agency for Asylum and Greece, 1 April 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/420NLHL

[18] ECRE, The Role of EASO Operations in National Asylum Systems’, 29 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/46IkjHB.

[19] Monthly reports of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum are available at: https://bit.ly/3OFlP83.

[20] AIDA, The Implementation of the Dublin III Regulation in 2022, November 2023, p. 19, available at: https://bit.ly/3smFIYS

[21] Greek Ombudsman, Resumption of transfers of unaccompanied minors in the context of family reunification (“Dublin III”) following the Ombudsman’s intervention, 27 November 2023, available in Greek at: https://tinyurl.com/yb73uyu6.

[22] MoMA, Statistics, Consolidated Reports – Overview: December 2023 – International Protection | Appendix A, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yc2stzh7, table 17.

[23] Article 89(1) (b) asylum code

[24] Article 97 (1) (d)(i) asylum code

[25] Ibid.

[26] 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.

[27] 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.

[28] 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 OnMed, Doctors of the World Greece: The return of refugees to Greece in 2017 is disastrous,  17 December 2016, available in Greek at: https://tinyurl.com/mtuwxupm; 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-Türkiye 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.

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

[30] 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.

[31] Germany, Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia (Oberverwaltungsgerichte/Verwaltungsgerichtshöfe), Applicant v The Federal Republic of Germany, represented by Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, No 11 A 1564 / 20.A, ECLI:DE:OVGNRW:2021:0121.11A1564.20A.00, 21 January 2021, available at: https://tinyurl.com/5cnyrx7c.

[32] Full case summary can be found at EUAA Case Law Database, available at: https://bit.ly/3VyJskz.

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

[34] See, in general, ECRE, AIDA, The implementation of the Dublin III Regulation in 2022, November 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3smFIYS.  

[35] See, e.g., German: https://bit.ly/3WCfeNM, https://bit.ly/3ZSjyd4 and https://bit.ly/3BWabhG; Netherlands: https://bit.ly/45I7aiH; Belgium: https://bit.ly/3rOuMD4  and https://bit.ly/45t5CZD.

[36] See, e.g., https://bit.ly/45snK4I  and https://bit.ly/3ZQDnRp.

[37] See, e.g., Switzerland Federal Administrative Court, 8 October 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3IEcLfM.

[38] RSA, Dublin returns to Greece, 21 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3tHwi7T: ‘At the moment, the Greek reception system is undergoing a gradual transformation through the dismantling of open housing facilities in favour of large-scale ‘closed controlled centres’, while a coherent policy to support integration of people granted international protection is still lacking. Despite these circumstances, EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries continue to send thousands of Dublin take back requests to return asylum seekers to Greece. In line with a Recommendation[38] from the European Commission, Dublin transfers to Greece are carried out following the provision of individual assurances by the Greek Dublin Unit relating to the treatment of returnees in line with the EU asylum acquis.’

[39] RSA, Recognised refugee returned to Greece, destitute, forgotten and undocumented, 4 March 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3K0Mt6l.; See for instance, AIDA, The Implementation of the Dublin III Regulation in 2022, November 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3smFIYS p. 23, footnote 85.

[40] Police Circular No 1604/16/1195968, available in Greek at: https://tinyurl.com/ye85mfbc.

[41] 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