The SAFE project has compiled a policy recommendation paper titled, “Ensuring the best interest of the child and family unity in the Dublin process”. This paper stems from the SAFE project’s findings in these countries, which has indicated the wide variation in approaches to the Dublin system and the impact on unaccompanied and separated children.
This paper explores the Dublin Regulation as applied and implemented in Greece, the UK and Denmark by examining how each country considers a child’s best interests, and family unity, in the context of a Dublin application. This paper focuses on kinship families and aims to help policy makers and public authorities understand the challenges, complexities and needs of the families supporting unaccompanied children in both transit and destination countries. The overall aim of this paper is to bring legislative and procedural changes to improve the experiences of these children and their kinship families.
The implementation of the Dublin Regulation is marred by inconsistent and disjointed practice across the EU. Some of the key issues of concern are:
- Timescales not being adhered to for primarily bureaucratic reasons
- Lack of available and consistent data collection
- Restrictive and inflexible administrative practices
- Lack of support to the child and involved families (to understand the process, manage transitions, etc.)
- Lack of relationships with the child to ensure that their best interests are truly considered (with family and with those speaking for child)
- Absence of guidance on how to complete a Best Interests Assessment
- Not enough resources invested in process
The experiences of Greece, the UK and Denmark provide a snapshot of the challenges unaccompanied children and their families face around the implementation of the Dublin Regulation. To improve the experiences of young people and their relatives, some key changes should be implemented across the European Union:
1) Agree Dublin Standard Operating Procedures that are efficient and effective, regardless which countries are involved
2) A Best Interests Assessment procedure and format for all Dublin transfers that is used across the EU and based on recommendations from the Committee on the Rights of the Child and UNHCR
3) More encouragement of kinship care across the EU
4) More consistent data collection (so statistics can be compared)
5) For the UK, to continue some version of Dublin procedures post “Brexit”