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The Dublin Regulation (Regulation No. 604/2013; sometimes the Dublin III Regulation; previously the Dublin II Regulation and Dublin Convention) is a European Union (EU) law that determines which EU Member State is responsible for the examination of an application for asylum, submitted by persons seeking international protection under the Geneva Convention and the EU Qualification Directive, within the European Union. It is the cornerstone of the Dublin System, which consists of the Dublin Regulation and the EURODAC Regulation, which establishes a Europe-wide fingerprinting database for unauthorised entrants to the EU. The Dublin Regulation aims to "determine rapidly the Member State responsible [for an asylum claim]"[1] and provides for the transfer of an asylum seeker to that Member State.


The Dublin regime was originally established by the Dublin Convention, which was signed in Dublin, Ireland on 15 June 1990, and first came into force on 1 September 1997 for the first twelve signatories (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom), on 1 October 1997 for Austria and Sweden, and on 1 January 1998 for Finland.[2] While the convention was only open to accession by member states of the European Communities, Norway and Iceland, non-member states, concluded an agreement with the EC in 2001 to apply the provisions of the Convention in their territories.[3]

The Dublin II Regulation was adopted in 2003, replacing the Dublin Convention in all EU member states except Denmark, which has an opt-out from implementing regulations under the area of freedom, security and justice.[1] An agreement with Denmark on extending the application of the Regulation to Denmark came into force in 2006.[4] A separate protocol also extended the Iceland-Norway agreement to Denmark in 2006.[5] The provisions of the Regulation were also extended by a treaty to non-member states Switzerland on 1 March 2008,[6] which on 5 June 2005 voted by 54.6% to ratify it, and Liechtenstein on 1 April 2011.[7] A protocol subsequently made this agreement also applicable to Denmark.[8]

On 3 December 2008, the European Commission proposed amendments to the Dublin Regulation, creating an opportunity for reform of the Dublin System.[9] The Dublin III Regulation (No. 604/2013) was approved in June 2013, replacing the Dublin II Regulation, and applies to all member states except Denmark.[10] It came into force on 19 July 2013. It is based on the same principle as the previous two, i. e., that the first Member State where finger prints are stored or an asylum claim is lodged is responsible for a person's asylum claim.[11]

In July 2017, the European Court of Justice upheld the Dublin Regulation, declaring that it still stands despite the high influx of 2015, giving EU member states the right to deport migrants to the first country of entry to the EU.[12]


One of the principal aims of the Dublin Regulation is to prevent an applicant from submitting applications in multiple Member States. Another aim is to reduce the number of "orbiting" asylum seekers, who are shuttled from member state to member state. The country in which the asylum seeker first applies for asylum is responsible for either accepting or rejecting the claim, and the seeker may not restart the process in another jurisdiction.


According to European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and UNHCR the current system fails in providing fair, efficient and effective protection. Around 2008, those refugees transferred under Dublin were not always able to access an asylum procedure. This put people at risk of being returned to persecution.[13] The claim has been made on a number of occasions both by ECRE[14] and UNHCR,[15] that the Dublin regulation impedes the legal rights and personal welfare of asylum seekers, including the right to a fair examination of their asylum claim and, where recognised, to effective protection, as well as the uneven distribution of asylum claims among Member States.

Application of this regulation can seriously delay the presentation of claims, and can result in claims never being heard. Causes of concern include the use of detention to enforce transfers of asylum seekers from the state where they apply to the state deemed responsible, also known as Dublin transfers, the separation of families and the denial of an effective opportunity to appeal against transfers. The Dublin system also increases pressures on the external border regions of the EU, where the majority of asylum seekers enter EU and where states are often least able to offer asylum seekers support and protection.[16]

After ECRE,[17] the UNHCR and other non-governmental organisations openly criticised Greece's asylum system, including the lack of protection and care for unaccompanied children, several countries suspended transfers of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin II regulation. Norway announced in February 2008 it would stop transferring any asylum seeker back to Greece under the Dublin II regulation. In September, it backtracked and announced that transfers to Greece would be based on individual assessments.[18] In April 2008 Finland announced a similar move.[19]

The regulation is also criticised by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights as undermining refugee rights.[20]

The European Court of Human Rights in the case M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, judged on 21 January 2011 that both the Greek and the Belgian governments violated the European Convention on Human Rights by applying the EU's own law on asylum seekers and were given fines of €6,000 and €30,000, respectively.[21][22][23] Recently, voices have been heard calling for the imposition of tougher sanctions, should similar cases of trying to follow EU asylum laws occur in the future.[24]

Hungarian withdrawal, rendering the 'Dublin' regulation 'dead'

Around 23 June 2015 during the European refugee and migrant crisis, Hungary considered itself overburdened with asylum applications after receiving 60,000 "illegal immigrants" that year and announced to no longer receive back applicants who had crossed the borders to other EU countries and were detained there, as they should according to the 'Dublin' regulation, due to unspecified "technical reasons", thus practically withdrawing from that Dublin regulation.[25] On 24 August 2015, Germany therefore decided to make use of the "sovereignty clause" to process Syrian asylum applications for which it would not be responsible under the criteria of the Regulation.[26] On 2 September 2015, the Czech Republic also decided to offer Syrian refugees who had already applied for asylum in other EU countries and who had reached the country to either have their application processed in the Czech Republic (i. e. get asylum there) or to continue their journey elsewhere.[27]

States such as Hungary, Slovakia and Poland also officially stated their opposition to any possible revision or enlargement of the Dublin Regulation, specifically referring to the eventual introduction of new mandatory or permanent quotas for solidarity measures.[28]

In April 2018 at a public meeting of the Interior-Committee of the German Bundestag, expert witness Kay Hailbronner, asked about a future European asylum system, described the current state of the Dublin Regulation as dysfunctional. Hailbronner concluded, that once the EU has been reached, travelling to the desired destination, where the chances for being granted full refugee status are best and better living conditions are expected, was common practice. Sanctions for such travel were practically non-existent. Even if already deported, a return to the desired nation could be organized.[29]

See also

Further reading

  • Da Lomba, Sylvia (26 February 2004). Right to Seek Refugee Status in the European Union [39] . Intersentia. ISBN 9050953492.
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