The Dublin agreement is a mechanism in the European Union, which helps identify which country is responsible for processing the asylum application of someone belonging to a non-EU country or a stateless person.(Infomigrants)
The Dublin Regulation is an EU law that designates member state responsibility for examining an asylum application. Its purpose is to assign one member state to one asylum seeker to ensure that individuals do not ask for asylum in multiple countries, and that governments do not outright ignore a person’s asylum request. The regulation is also referred to as Dublin III (EC 604/2013), which replaces the earlier EU Dublin regulations Dublin II (343/2003) and the original Dublin Convention, which was signed in 1990.
The regulation does this by setting forth a hierarchy of criteria to guide a member state’s decision on where an individual should have their application examined. The criterion most commonly used by states is the “first EU country of entry, meaning which member state responsible for examining an individual’s asylum application is the one through which he or she first entered into the EU.
Once a migrant applies for asylum, officials record his basic information and take fingerprints. To establish the responsibility for asylum, officials take several criteria into consideration. These include, in hierarchical order, family considerations, recent possession of a visa or residence permit of a member state, and whether an applicant has entered the EU legally or illegally. For example: an asylum seeker who came to the EU via Hungary and then traveled to Belgium, would likely be sent back to Hungary to have their application examined.
In the view of EU and government officials, the Dublin Regulation is the cornerstone of the Common European Asylum System. Without it, asylum seekers could have applications open in several member states and it wouldn’t be clear which state would be responsible for making a decision. The Dublin system also assumes that asylum laws and practices are at the same level in all European Union countries and those applicants will be afforded equal status of protection everywhere within the EU. However, asylum practices vary from country to country. Member states at EU borders have also complained that the system puts all the burden of migrants on them since they are usually the first point of refugees fleeing to Europe.
- In 2011, four and half thousand asylum seekers were returned to Italy, while themselves transferring only 14 asylum seekers to other countries. Is this an equitable distribution of asylum seekers?
- On average, only 35% of transfer requests between member states are actually implemented. What happened to the other 65%?
But in the view of asylum seekers and civil society organizations working with them, the Dublin Regulation is a menace. This is because it forces asylum seekers to be in countries where they do not want to be. More often than not, asylum seekers are returned to member states located at the EU borders who have poorly functioning asylum systems. Another problem with the Dublin system is that people applying for asylum often have to wait for some time without knowing whether their application will be accepted. During this period, they are forced to live in detention centers and are separated from their families. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in some cases appeals are never heard.