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Unaccompanied Minors’ Asylum Applications

Members of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee have said that EU asylum applications for unaccompanied minors should be processed in the EU country where the child is present, even if this is not where the child first applied.

The committee were discussing amendments to the Dublin Regulation, which determines which member state should examine asylum applications. It says that processing applications where children are present is usually in their best interests, and avoids moving them unnecessarily between member states. The only possible exception to this principle should be if an individual assessment shows that it would be in the best interest of the child to go to another country, say MEPs.

The amendments aim to clarify Dublin Regulation rules on which member state is responsible for processing the asylum application of an unaccompanied minor. The current regulation is not clear on this point, saying that it should be where the minor has lodged his or her application, but not whether this should be the country where the minor first applied for asylum or, in cases where more than one application is made, the country where the minor is present.

“Unaccompanied minors are very vulnerable and the best interest of the child must always come first. I am extremely happy that the committee supports this view”, said Parliament’s lead MEP Cecilia Wikström. “The position of the European Parliament is clear: children should not be pushed around between member states.”

Mrs Wikström has been given a mandate to start negotiations with member states over the amendments, and talks are expected to begin shortly.

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