Dublin

Greece

Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website

General

 

Dublin statistics: 2019

Outgoing procedure

Incoming procedure

 

Requests

Transfers

 

Requests

Transfers

Total

5,459

2,542

Total

12,718

33

Germany

1,922

710

Germany

8,874

19

United Kingdom

1,230

591

Sweden

935

2

Sweden

375

253

Belgium

926

4

Switzerland

339

242

Italy

468

0

Netherlands

265

121

Croatia

321

0

France

263

78

Norway

242

0

Austria

179

91

Finland

122

0

Italy

171

83

Ireland

111

0

Belgium

155

75

Netherlands

74

0

Finland

136

86

Romania

56

0

Spain

87

40

Malta

52

0

Source: Asylum Service, Statistical Data of the Greek Dublin Unit (7.6.2013 – 31.12.2019), 3 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3eBxzE7.

 

There has been a slight increase in the number of outgoing requests compared to the previous year. In 2019, Greece addressed 5,459 outgoing requests to other Member States under the Dublin Regulation. Out of them, 2,936 requests were rejected by receiving Member states, 2,416 requests were expressly accepted and 107 were implicitly accepted. Thus, for the first time since the entry into force of the Dublin III Regulation, Greece received more rejections than acceptances of its outgoing requests.

Outgoing Dublin requests: 2014-2019

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Number

1,126

1,073

4,886

9,784

5,211

5,459

Source: Asylum Service, Statistical Data of the Greek Dublin Unit (7.6.2013 – 31.12.2019)

 

Since 2017, the German Dublin Unit has shifted its practice following the Mengesteab ruling of the CJEU.[1] Soon after the judgment, it started rejecting “take charge” requests from Greece, where the applicant had expressed his or her will to seek international protection – before the Police – more than three months prior to the date of the “take charge” request. This was contrary to the practice established until then, whereby Germany accepted the lodging of the application by the Asylum Service as the starting point of the three-month deadline for the issuance of “take charge” requests. This shift resulted in increasing rejections of Greek outgoing requests as inadmissible. This interpretation has been used until today by the German Dublin Unit to routinely refuse responsibility for the examination of family reunification cases that are not submitted within three months from the date of an asylum-seeker’s expression of intention.

To avoid such rejections in the future, the Greek Dublin Unit notified all authorities involved in the First Reception and Registration and adjusted its practice to Germany’s interpretation by sending a “take charge” request within three months from the time of the registration of the will to seek international protection (βούληση). However, GCR is aware of a number of family reunification cases especially of newcomers trapped on the Aegean islands -amongst which cases of detainees and unaccompanied minors- who had suffered great delays between the will to apply for asylum and the registration of the application and successively in sending a potential ‘take charge’ request within said three months’ period.[2]

Moreover, another reason for the increase of rejections is the interpretation of the CJEU judgment in the Joined Cases C‑47/17 and C‑48/17[3] by the Dublin Units of some Member States. Following this judgment, the German Dublin Unit only accepts one re-examination request and refuses to keep cases open even when further medical tests for the establishment of the family link are pending, claiming that there is no possibility to deviate from the deadlines prescribed in the Dublin III Regulation. The Dutch Dublin Unit seems to follow the same practice.[4]

 

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: 2019

Dublin III Regulation criterion

Outgoing

Incoming

 Family provisions: Articles 8-11

3,275

91

 Documentation: Articles 12 and 14

18

699

 Irregular entry: Article 13

2

2,649

 Dependent persons clause: Article 16

85

1

 Humanitarian clause: Article 17(2)

1,496

30

 “Take back”: Articles 18, 20(5)

583

9,214

 Total outgoing and incoming requests

5,459

12,718

Source: Asylum Service, Statistical Data of the Greek Dublin Unit (07.06.2013 – 31.12.2019) 3 January 2020.

 

Family unity

 

Out of 3,275 outgoing requests based on family reunification provisions in 2019, 1,819 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 his/her 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). According to 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. However, if the available information in the case and the claim of the asylum seeker are coherent and credible, the Dublin Unit will sent an outgoing request even without documents proving the family link.[6]

Furthermore, according to GCR’s experience, only documents provided in English or translated 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. Moreover, there have been a few cases where the coloured photocopies of IDs or other official documents provided by the applicants were dismissed by the Dublin Units of some Member States which requested the submission of the original documents. The UK Home Office reportedly even contacts the British embassies in the country of origin to confirm the authenticity of the submitted documents. There have also been cases where Dublin Units of other Member States reject the “take charge” request, claiming that the relative residing there had not previously mentioned the existence of family members in another country. It occurs that for these cases the concerned persons were expected to refer to the existence of family members, in the scope of other administrative procedures, such as the issuance of a spouse visa, even though they had not been asked relevant questions concerning other family members.

The establishment of the family link is a crucial factor for the outcome of the “take charge” requests. The German Dublin Unit, for example, systematically uses information acquired through personal interviews, in order to reject a “take charge” request and never to accept it, although the information could (or rather, should) be used to prove the family tie. Then, in case of lack of documentation, a DNA test seems to be the only solution and the German Dublin Unit has explicitly asked for the submission of the DNA test within the three-month deadline. Hence, it seems that the use of the DNA test for the establishment of the family link tends to become a standard practice rather than a last resort one.[7]

Throughout 2019, in cases where a subsequent separation of the family took place after their asylum application in Greece, the Greek Dublin Unit examined the case to see if the criteria of the humanitarian clause are fulfilled. However, the majority of the Member States reject such outgoing requests.[8] Germany, in particular, refuses those “take charge” requests within a very short period of time, providing insufficient or no reasoning at all while insisting on and prioritising the procedural rather than the substantial rules and binding criteria laid down in the Dublin Regulation (such as the family unity).[9] According to GCR’s experience, if a subsequent request involving self-inflicted family separation is rejected, the Dublin Unit generally refuses to send a re-examination request and closes the case.

According to GCR’s knowledge, in a considerable number of cases of ‘self-inflicted’ family separations, where children already registered with their families in Greece show themselves in another Member State, the Asylum Service continued the practice of not sending outgoing “take charge” requests based on the family provisions or the humanitarian clause, on the basis that practices of ‘self-inflicted’ family separations are against the best interest of the child.

As regards the documents requested, in case the child is in another Member State, written consent of his or her guardian is always requested by the Dublin Unit in order to start the procedure.

Unaccompanied children

Problems also arise in the cases of unaccompanied children whose family members are present in another Member State. The system of appointing a guardian for minors is dysfunctional, as little is done after the Asylum Service or Police or RIC has informed the Public Prosecutor for minors who acts by law as temporary guardian for unaccompanied children; the Prosecutor merely assumes that capacity in theory. In practice, NGO personnel is usually appointed as temporary guardian by the Public Prosecutor. The Law 4554/2018, passed in July 2018, provides a regulatory framework for the guardianship of unaccompanied minors. The State, with the support of the National Center for Social Solidarity (NCSS -ΕΚΚΑ), shall bear the responsibility for such minors and a Supervisory Board for the Guardianship of Unaccompanied Minors is to be established.[10] A Register of Professional Guardians shall also be kept at NCSS. However, this has yet to be implemented and according to the last amendment, the law should enter into force on 1 March 2020,[11] however the latter was still not in force at the end of May 2020.

Germany has refused to examine requests if a more distant family member/relative of an unaccompanied minor is present in Greece, even when the child is to be reunited with his/her parents or siblings, since it considers the child not to be an unaccompanied minor.[12]

In August 2018, the Dublin Unit developed a new tool for the Best Interests Assessment (BIA) of unaccompanied children, aiming to facilitate family reunification requests.[13] According to the Dublin Unit, the purpose of this tool is to gather all the necessary information required by Member States when assessing family reunification cases or unaccompanied children. The tool was developed following consultation with all international organisations and NGOs active in Greece.[14]

The new BIA is indispensable for the “take charge” request of unaccompanied children and to GCR’s knowledge, its omission always leads to rejections by the Dublin Units of the other Member States. However, the submission of a fully completed BIA form does not necessarily lead to the acceptance of the outgoing “take charge” request by the other Member State. Based on GCR’s experience, some Member States also require evidence that the relative residing in the requested country is able to support the child, although this is not provided for in article 8 of the Dublin III Regulation. In this context, GCR is aware of cases where the submission of house and employment contracts was required. Moreover, Germany has rejected “take charge” requests because the professional who completed the BIA form was not authorised by the unaccompanied minor or because it required that the Public Prosecutor for Minors authorises the person who completes the BIA form. Recently some Member States, like the United Kingdom, have initiated a new practice where their social services contact directly the unaccompanied children and ask them additional questions.

Furthermore, “take charge” requests for unaccompanied minors have been rejected due to an arbitrary interpretation of the “best interest of the child” concept. In a case handled by GCR, the German Dublin Unit rejected the “take charge” request for an unaccompanied minor who wanted to reunite with his uncle, because the uncle said that the child would share a room with his cousins, though in a separate bunk bed. This was sufficient for Germany to deem that the best interest of the child would not be respected.

Such practices are indicative of the strict and wrongful application of the Dublin Regulation by other Member States which has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of the refusals of “take charge” requests for family reunifications, sent by the Greek Dublin Unit. Namely, the German Dublin Unit rejects 75% of the requests for family reunification.[15] A joint report of Refugee Support Aegean and PRO ASYL published in September 2019, focuses on this issue and confirms the negative practices of the German Dublin Unit. Germany is urged to review its current application of the Dublin Regulation in order to interpret it as a whole set of criteria and substantial principles (such as the family unity and the best interest of the child) rather than just as procedural rules and deadlines.[16] However, it should be noted that the German Administrative Courts have adopted a different approach, overturning in many cases the rejections of the German Dublin Unit and ruling that Germany must accept the “take-charge” requests.[17]

The dependent persons and discretionary clauses

There has been a significant increase in outgoing requests based on the humanitarian clause. (1,496 in 2019 compared to 825 in 2018). According to GCR’s experience, requests under the humanitarian clause mainly concern dependent and vulnerable persons who fall outside the family criteria set out in Articles 8-11 and cases where the three-month deadline for a request has expired for various reasons. Moreover, some Member States, such as the United Kingdom, ask to be sent a “take charge” request based on the humanitarian clause of Article 17(2) of the Dublin III Regulation in cases where they have failed to reply within the deadline, although this omission should lead to implied acceptances.

The acceptance rate has been lower on outgoing requests based on the humanitarian clause compared to requests based on the family provisions. Out of 1,496 outgoing requests under Article 17(2) of the Dublin Regulation in 2019, only 488 were accepted (32.7%).[18] In those cases, the Dublin Unit has been reluctant to send re-examination requests after an initial rejection. Germany generally refuses to apply Article 17(2) in order to examine overdue requests. Contrary to the interpretation of the German Dublin Unit, the German Administrative Courts have ruled in several cases that the discretionary clause of Article 17(2) might under certain circumstances oblige Germany to take charge of an applicant, particularly if the competence of the Member State would not be given because of a deadline expiry the applicant had no influence on.[19]

Some positive developments occurred as well. In March 2019 the Greek and Portuguese authorities concluded a bilateral agreement to relocate 1,000 asylum seekers from Greece to Portugal by the end of the year. The programme would start with a trial of 100 asylum seekers. Relocation candidates would have to initially apply for asylum in Greece and Portuguese authorities would then interview eligible asylum seekers in Greece to determine if they could be relocated to Portugal. Selection criteria were not known.[20]  However, no further developments on this matter have been recorded throughout the year. In January 2020, the Alternate Minister for Migration Policy reiterated Portugal’s will to accept up to 1,000 asylum seekers and stated that Greece and Portugal have already been working on this project.[21]

A new project for the relocation of 400 vulnerable asylum seekers to France has also been announced. The project should start in February 2020, aiming at the completion of the relocations by the summer.[22]

Moreover, in December 2019 the Greek and Serbian authorities reached an agreement for the relocation of 100 unaccompanied minors to Serbia. The selection process will be managed by the National Center for Social Solidarity and both the UNHCR and IOM will be involved in the implementation of the agreement.[23]

In March 2020, a number of EU Member States have accepted to relocate a number of 1,600 unaccompanied children from Greece.[24] The first 12 children, have been relocated to Luxembourg on 15 April 2020. 47 children have been relocated to Germany on 18 April 2020. Portugal also announced in May 2020 that it would relocate 500 unaccompanied children. Despite the fact that the number of children to be relocated remains low, compared to the number of unaccompanied children present in Greece (5,379 children as of 29 February 2020), this relocation scheme could be an important precedent. UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF, in a joint statement have urged “other EU Member States to also follow through on relocation pledges”. As underlined, “[t]he relocation efforts are humane, concrete demonstrations of European solidarity… there is a need to move beyond one-off relocation exercises and establish more predictable arrangements for relocation within the EU, for longer-term impact”.[25]

 

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.

As already mentioned in Determining authority and Regular Procedure, EASO also assists the authorities in the Dublin procedure. However, EASO is involved only in the outgoing procedure, due to a decision not to assist in the handling of incoming requests to avoid dealing with cases where requests had to be refused due to limitations in the reception system, or due to policies contrary to the EU asylum acquis. [26]

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.

Similarly, requests for family reunification based however on the “humanitarian” clause due to the expiry of the three-month deadline due to the applicant’s responsibility are usually rejected on the basis that “Article 17(2) has not the intention to examine take charge requests which are expired”, according to the rejecting Member State.

Given the severe restrictions posed by other Member States on family reunification, as they were described in Dublin: General, the Unit consistently prepares for a rejection, and anticipates re-examination requests.[27]

Generally, outgoing requests by Greece receive a reply within 2 months after the request is submitted, in line with the time limits imposed by the Regulation.[28] No data have been made available by the Asylum Service regarding the overall average duration of the procedure between the lodging of the application and the actual transfer to the responsible Member State.

Individualised guarantees

The Greek Dublin Unit requests individual guarantees on the reception conditions of the applicant and the asylum procedure to be followed.[29] 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.

 

Transfers

 

Dublin procedures appear to run smoothly, but usually making use of the maximum time of the requisite deadlines, although extremely vulnerable cases are reportedly treated with a certain priority. Generally, deadlines for “take charge” requests as well as transfers are usually met without jeopardising the outcome of family reunification. However, delays occur and the waiting time for transfers remains high. No data have been made available by the Asylum Service regarding the average duration of the transfer procedure, after a Member State had accepted responsibility.

Applicants who have to travel by plane to another Member State are requested to be several hours in advance at the Athens International Airport. The police officer escorts the applicants to the check-in counter. Once the boarding passes are issued, the escorting officer hands in the boarding passes, the laissez-passer and the applicant’s “asylum seeker’s card” to a police officer at the airport. The latter escorts the applicant into the aircraft, hands in the required documents to the captain of the aircraft and the applicant boards the aircraft.

Travel costs for transfers were covered by the Asylum Service in 2019.

A total of 2,542 transfers were completed in 2019, compared to 5,460 transfers in the previous year. This significant decrease relates to the fact that a considerable number transfers of applicants to Germany which had been delayed for many months in 2017, were carried out in 2018. 

Outgoing Dublin transfers by month: 2019

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

72

223

309

96

225

198

175

97

318

232

412

185

2,542

Source: Asylum Service.

 

Personal interview

 

Under the Dublin procedure, a personal interview is not always required.[30]

In practice, detailed personal 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 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.

 

Appeal

 

According to the IPA, applications for international protection are declared inadmissible where the Dublin Regulation applies.[31] 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.[32] Such an appeal can also be directed against the transfer decision, which is incorporated in the inadmissibility decision.[33]

Contrary to other appeals against inadmissibility decisions, the appeal will have automatic suspensive effect.[34] Appeals against Dublin decisions will be examined by the Appeals Committees in single-judge format.[35]

 

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. 

Limited access to legal assistance creates difficulties for applicants in navigating the complexities of the Dublin procedure. The case files of the applicants are communicated by the RAO competent for the registration of asylum applications to the Dublin Unit. Moreover, the Dublin Unit does not consider itself responsible for preparing Dublin-related case files, as the applicants bear the responsibility of submitting to the Asylum Service all documents required in order for the Dublin Unit to establish a “take charge” request, such as proof of family links. However, in practice, according to GCR’s experience, Dublin Unit officers usually make every effort to notify applicants on time for the submission of any missing documents before the expiry of the deadlines.

 

Suspension of transfers

 

Little information on suspension of transfers is available.

The Administrative Court of Appeal of Piraeus suspended the execution of a decision of the 5th Independent Appeals Committee regarding the transfer of an Afghan family of asylum-seekers, with young children, to Bulgaria in May 2019, finding that, if returned to Bulgaria, they seem to have a justified claim of potential harm by being sent back to Afghanistan (refoulement).[36]

Moreover, in December 2019, the Administrative Court of Athens suspended the transfer of a vulnerable asylum-seeker from Ivory Coast, who was victim of torture, to Bulgaria, finding that it is likely that the applicant may suffer an irreversible harm in his health and life, as well as an infringement of his rights, if returned to Bulgaria, due to systematic omissions and deficiencies of this country in the examination of applications for international protection from vulnerable persons.[37]

 

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.[38]

Following three Recommendations issued to Greece in the course of 2016,[39] 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.[40] Persons belonging to vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied children are to be excluded from Dublin transfers for the moment, according to the Recommendation.[41]

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.”[42]

These findings remain valid at the time of writing, since Greece continues to receive a considerably high number of asylum applications,[43] while competent authorities do not have the capacity to process the examination of the applications in due time (see Regular Procedure: General). In addition, reception capacity still fall short of actual needs and asylum seekers and status holders face homelessness and destitution risks, while living conditions are reported substandard in a number of facilities across the country (see Reception Conditions: Conditions in Reception Facilities and Content of Protection: Housing).

During 2018, the number of incoming requests under the Dublin Regulation received by the Greek Dublin Unit was 9,219. This number continued to increase in 2019, with Greece receiving 12,718 incoming requests, coming predominantly from Germany (8,874). Of those, only 710 were accepted (5.6%) while 12,008 were refused (94.4%).

 

Incoming Dublin requests by sending country: 2019

Country

Total requests

Accepted requests

Refused requests

Germany

8,874

504

8,370

Sweden

935

70

865

Belgium

926

38

888

Italy

468

9

459

Slovenia

381

3

378

Total

12,718

710

12,008

Source: Asylum Service.

 

In 2019, 33 persons have been transferred back to Greece, mainly from Germany, Belgium and Poland.[44]

Regarding the guarantees provided by Greece to the Member states requesting the return of a person to Greece, the Greek Dublin Unit informs the Member State on the availability of accommodation in any reception facility and on the resumption of the asylum procedure, following the announcement of the person’s return.[45] Upon arrival at the Athens International Airport, the person is received by the Police and referred to the Asylum Service.

In practice and during 2019, if the application of the person concerned has not been closed, i.e. the deadline of 9 months from the discontinuation of the procedure has not expired, the person could submit an application for the continuation of the examination and continue the previous procedure upon return to Greece. Otherwise, the person has to file a Subsequent Application, contrary to Article 18(2) of the Dublin Regulation.

Finally, it should be mentioned that, applicants who are subject to the EU-Turkey statement and left the islands in violation of the geographical limitation to remain on this island 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,[46] and their application will be examined under the fast track border procedure, which offers limited guarantees.[47]   

In 2019, a number of Member States’ Courts have ruled against the transfer of asylum applicants to Greece on the basis of the Dublin III regulation.

In October 2019, the Dutch Council State ruled against the Dublin transfer of an applicant to Greece.[48] It held that returns to Greece cannot take place unless legal aid can be guaranteed to asylum seekers, or unless there are individual guarantees that asylum seekers will be appointed legal representation upon return. 

In July 2019, the Administrative Court of Munich suspended the transfer of a Syrian national to Greece. His application for asylum in Greece had previously been deemed inadmissible as Turkey was considered as a safe third country. The Court found that, if returned to Greece, the applicant could face chain refoulement to Turkey. Moreover, it held that the Greece-Germany Administrative Arrangement did not apply in this case, as the applicant was refused entry due to lack of correct documentation. Finally, Germany had launched the transfer proceedings too soon and not in accordance with the Dublin Regulation.[49]

Greece-Germany Administrative Arrangement

In August 2018, Germany and Greece concluded the so-called “Administrative Arrangement” Agreement between the Ministry of Migration Policy of the Hellenic Republic and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community of the Federal Republic of Germany on the cooperation when refusing entry to persons seeking protection in the context of temporary checks at the internal German-Austrian border” (the so-called ‘Seehofer Deal’). This ‘agreement’ did not take the form of an official bilateral agreement or treaty. The text of the arrangement was annexed to letters exchanged between German and Greek authorities,[50] and has not been officially published, though it has been leaked.[51]

The Administrative Arrangement lays down a fast-track procedure for the return to Greece of persons apprehended during border controls on the German-Austrian border, which circumvents the procedure and legal safeguards set inter alia by Dublin III Regulation. It “is essentially a fast track implementation of return procedures in cases for which Dublin Regulation already lays down specific rules and procedures. The procedures provided in the ‘Arrangement’ skip all legal safeguards and guarantees of European Legislation”.[52]

According to the “Administrative Arrangement”, persons who: (a) are arrested at the German-Austrian border; (b) who express their desire for international protection in Germany; and (c) have been fingerprinted in Eurodac as applicants for international protection in Greece from July 2017 onwards, are issued a refusal of entry decision and are automatically returned to Greece. The return of the person should be initiated no more than 48 hours from apprehension. Greece can object to the return within 6 hours from the automatic confirmation of the notification. Germany notifies the refusal of entry to the Greek Authorities. A mechanism for the automatic confirmation of the receipt of the notification is introduced from the Greek side.

A number of legal, including human rights, concerns are raised by said arrangement. These can be summarised as follows:[53]

  • Despite the explicit intention of the person to apply for asylum in Germany, the application is not registered by the German authorities, in violation of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive among other instruments,
  • Procedural safeguards prior to transfer are not followed and any safeguards set out namely in the Dublin III Regulation are bypassed. Human rights obligations under Article 3 ECHR and Article 4 of the EU Charter, imposing on the returning state a duty to ensure guarantees against refoulement and with regard to the living conditions of the applicant, are also not met.[54] European Commission guidance on the need to obtain individual guarantees prior to transfers to Greece is also disregarded.[55]
  • Access to asylum of those returned to Greece is not guaranteed.

The implementation of the transfer to Greece within a very short timeframe, coupled with the non-suspensive nature of appeals against refusal of entry decisions, also hinders access to an effective remedy.[56]

As of early October 2019, the German-Greek Administrative Arrangement had been implemented in nineteen cases. The persons returned from Germany under the arrangement include 9 Afghan nationals, 3 Iraqi nationals, 3 Syrian nationals, 2 Cameroonian, 1 Iraqi and 1 Iranian national.[57]

Three lawsuits against the Federal Police Directorate of Munich are pending before the Administrative Court of Munich in connection with the Administrative Arrangement. Two of these cases included applications for interim measures.

In May 2019, the Administrative Court of Munich ruled against a provisional return of an applicant from Greece to Germany. The applicant had been refused entry to Germany and had already been returned to Greece. The Court refused to grant interim measures and held that Greece was responsible for the examination of the asylum application. Moreover, the applicant would not specifically and individually be affected by systemic weaknesses in Greece.[58]

In August 2019, the Administrative Court of Munich shifted its approach and ruled that the German-Greek Administrative Arrangement violates European law, circumventing the overall objective of the Dublin Regulation. [59] The case concerned an applicant who had previously been returned to Greece on the same day of his apprehension at the German-Austrian border. The Court granted interim measures and ordered his return to Germany. It is the first decision ruling against the Administrative Arrangement, one year after its conclusion. As reported, German authorities have not complied with said Decision, up until 2 September 2019.[60]

A case, supported by GCR is pending before the European Court of Human Rights, by the time of writing.  

 


[1] CJEU, Case C‑670/16 Tsegezab Mengesteab v Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Judgment of 26 July 2017, EDAL, available at: https://bit.ly/2XvMKq2.

[2] See also Refugee Support Aegean/Pro Asyl, ‘Refugee Families Torn Apart’, September 2019, available at; https://bit.ly/2VxpAjX.

[3] 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.

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

[5] Information provided by the Asylum Service, 17 February 2020.

[6] Information provided by the Asylum Service, 17 February 2020.

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

[8] Information provided by the Asylum Service, 17 February 2020.

[9] Refugee Support Aegean/Pro Asyl, ‘Refugee Families Torn Apart’, September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2KuDr4h.

[10] Law 4554/2018, Chapter C.

[11] Ibid, Article 32, as amended by Law 4623/2019, Article 73.

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

[13]Asylum Service, Best Interest Assessment Form for the Purposes of Implementing the Dublin Regulation, available at: https://bit.ly/2GQT8Tx.

[14] Asylum Service, ‘Best Interests Assessment for Dublin UAM’s cases – A new tool to serve the needs of family reunification applications of unaccompanied minors’, 2 August 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2Sxi8QX.

[15] ECRE, ‘Germany Rejects 75% of Greek Requests for Family Reunification’, 7 June 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2KtvoVe.

[16] Refugee Support Aegean/Pro Asyl, ‘Refugee Families Torn Apart’, September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2x6DGzu.

[17] See: Administrative Court Wiesbaden (Az. 4 L 478/19.WI.A), Decision of 25 April 2019, Administrative  Court  Frankfurt a. M. (Az. 10 L 34/19.F.A), Decision of 27 May 2019, Administrative Court Lüneburg (Az. 8 B 111/19), Decision of 8 June 2019.

[18] Information provided by the Asylum Service, 17 February 2020.

[19] Administrative Court Berlin, (23 L 706.18 A), 15 March 2019.

[20] Blog.refugee.info, ‘Portugal will accept up to 1,000 asylum-seekers from Greece’, 19 March 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2CEyYII.

[21] Avgi, ‘Relocation of 400 asylum-seekers to France’ 21 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3bBqHVm.

[22] Ibid.

[23] News 247, ‘Relocation of unaccompanied minor migrants to Serbia is promoted’, 15 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2yyFNfR.

[24]  EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Intervention (via video conference) in European Parliament LIBE Committee on the situation at the Union’s external borders in Greece, 2 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3adzSKl.

[25] UNHCR, IOM, UNICEF, UN agencies welcome first relocation of unaccompanied children from Greece, 12 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3bdV6cb.

[26] ECRE, The Role of EASO Operations in national asylum systems, November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/36qWCWH,  9.

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

[28] Article 22(1) Dublin III Regulation.

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

[30] Article 5 Dublin III Regulation.

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

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

[33] Ibid.

[34] Article 104(1) and (2)(a) IPA

[35] Article 116(2) IPA.

[36] Administrative Court of Appeals of Piraeus, Decision Ν69/2019, 15 May 2019.

[37] Administrative Court of Appeals of Athens, Decision N412/2019, 16 December 2019.

[38] 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. 

[39]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.

[40] 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.

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

[42] 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.

[43] Asylum Service, Statistical Data of the Greek Asylum Service (07.06.2013-31.12.2019), available at: https://bit.ly/3cHulNs.

[44] Asylum Service, Statistical Data of the Greek Dublin Unit (07.06.2013 – 31.12.2019), available at: https://bit.ly/3byP2uO.

[45] Information provided by the Asylum Service, 17 February 2020.

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

[47] 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.

[48] Dutch Council of State, Decision 3537/2019, 23 October 2019; EDAL, The Netherlands: Assurances of access to legal aid required in transfers to Greece Date: Wednesday, 23 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2z5yoou.

[49] Munich Administrative Court, Decision of 17 July 2019, M 11 S 19.50722, M 11 S 19.50759; Equal Rights Beyond Borders, Court of Munich again: Turkey is not a safe third country – Is the EU Turkey Deal dead?, 16 August 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/34HBHh6.

[50] In.gr, ‘Βίτσας: Τι προβλέπει η διμερής συμφωνία Ελλάδας – Γερμανίας’, 17 August 2018, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/2HCtIJK.  

[51] Refugee Support Aegean, ‘The Administrative Arrangement between Greece and Germany’, 1 November 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2WcOymT.

[52] Ibid.

[53] For an analysis see ECRE, Bilateral agreements: Implementing or bypassing the Dublin Regulation?, December 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2rvGNur; Refugee Support Aegean, ‘The Administrative Arrangement between Greece and Germany’, 1 November 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2WcOymT.

[54] See e.g. ECtHR, M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece; CJEU, Joined Cases C-411/10 NS and C-493/10 ME, Judgment of 21 December 2011. For an overview of relevant case law, see UNHCR, Manual on the Case Law of the European Regional Courts, June 2015, available at: https://bit.ly/2WyQ8z3.

[55] Point 10 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.

[56] See e.g. AIDA, Access to protection in Europe: Borders and entry into the territory, October 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2CLSIMg, 9.

[57] For more details, see German Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by Die Linke, 19/8340, 9 October 2019, available in German .

[58] Munich Administrative Court, Decision of 09.05.2019, M 5 E 19.50027.

[59] Munich Administrative Court, Decision of 9 August 2019, M 18 E 19.32238; EDAL, Germany: Administrative Court of Munich finds German-Greek Administrative Agreement violates European law and orders return of applicant from Greece, 8 August 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/34HxGtq.

[60] RSA/PROASYL et al., ‘Less than 48h for an illegal deportation, but still no return ordered three weeks after court decision’, 2 September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3epOSrv

 

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