Tenth anniversary of European asylum law agreed in Dublin is not a reason for celebration says Irish Refugee Council

Posted On: 18 February 2013

Today (18/2/13) is the tenth anniversary of the EU regulation that identifies which state is responsible for determining asylum, known as the Dublin II Regulation.  The regulation is one part of an EU wide system for the regulation of asylum across the 27 EU states.  It allows a state to return a refugee applicant to another EU country with which they have a connection, no matter how tenuous and regardless of their reason for choosing to apply to Ireland for asylum.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, says: “At a time when Ireland has the Presidency of the Council of Europe and has recently become a member of the UN Human Rights Council, it is a shame that a piece of European legislation which bears the name of Dublin should be one which causes the greatest suffering to those seeking a place of safety in Europe.  The transfer of people seeking asylum is contrary to the spirit of the Refugee Convention.”

The Irish Refugee Council would draw attention to the report released today on the operation of the Regulation by partners in other EU countries entitled ‘Dublin II Regulation: lives on hold’ and supports the call for a complete review of the Regulation.


Further information:

Sharon Waters                                    085 8585510  / Sharon@irishrefugeecouncil.ie



  • The Dublin II Regulation determines the EU Member State responsible to examine an application for asylum seekers seeking international protection under the Geneva Convention (asylum) and the EU Qualification Directive (subsidiary protection).  The Dublin System 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]” and provides for the transfer of an asylum seeker to that Member State. Usually, the responsible Member State will be the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.
  • The Dublin Regulation was adopted in 2003, ostensibly replacing the Dublin Convention. The Dublin Convention was signed in Dublin, Ireland on 15 June 1990, and first came into force on 1 September 199
  • The Dublin II Regulation is part of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), a legislative framework intended to lead to common standards for dealing with international protection issues across the EU.  The Regulation replaced the Dublin Convention of 1990.
  • In 2011 Ireland transferred 243 people to other EU states and agreed to accept back 208 under the Dublin II Regulation.
  • Further information about the report ‘Dublin II Regulation: lives on hold’ is contained in the press release from the Dublin Transnational Project below.  The Irish Refugee Council was part of the first stage of a transnational project on the operation of the Regulation. 


Little to celebrate on Dublin’s 10th anniversary – New research shows that the system continues to violate the rights of refugees

18 February 2013. Today the Dublin Regulation, that identifies which European State is responsible for deciding on an asylum application, turns 10. On this occasion, Forum Réfugiés-Cosi, ECRE, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and their national partners are publishing a comparative study on how this Regulation is applied by States entitled The Dublin II Regulation: Lives on Hold that shows that the Dublin system continues to fail both refugees and Member States.

The report reveals the harsh consequences of the Dublin system for asylum seekers whereby families are separated, people are left destitute or detained and despite the objective of the Regulation, access to an asylum procedure is not always guaranteed.

One example of the suffering to families caused by the Dublin system is the case of a Chechen father separated from his new-born child by the Austrian authorities. While the baby had refugee status in Austria, his father was sent to Poland under the Dublin system. The father’s request to apply for family reunification once he was in Poland was refused by the Austrian authorities and so the father remained separated from his wife and child by the mechanical application of this system. The majority of people sent back to another country under Dublin are actually returned to the first State of irregular entry into the EU.

Asylum seekers in the Dublin procedure are frequently treated as a secondary category of persons granted fewer entitlements in terms of reception conditions. Whenever there are shortages in the capacity of housing available for asylum seekers, those in the Dublin procedure are often the first affected by this. Access to accommodation in some Member States is not always ensured with some asylum seekers having to resort to Courts to access housing or even forced to building makeshift settlements themselves in order to find some shelter.

Fewer than half of the agreed Dublin transfers are actually carried out, suggesting a vast amount of wasted bureaucracy. However, no comprehensive data on the financial cost of applying the Dublin Regulation has ever been published.

The soon to be adopted Dublin III Regulation contains some significant areas of improvement, such as the right to a personal interview, but maintains the underlying principles of the Dublin system and will not address all these deficiencies. The application of the Regulation will require close monitoring from the European Commission in order to ensure its correct implementation by all Member States.

Ultimately, the underlying principles of the Dublin Regulation need to be fundamentally revised to design a more humane and equitable system that considers the individual case of asylum seekers and their connections with particular Member States, and therefore favours refugees’ integration prospects in Europe.



The research deals with the practice surrounding the Dublin II Regulation with respect to fundamental rights in 11 states: Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The comparative report and national reports are available at: www.dublin-project.eu

For further information

– On the human cost of the Dublin system read the personal accounts of:

–        An Iraqi family of asylum seekers whose imminent removal from Bulgaria to Greece under the readmission agreement between these two countries was only prevented through national court challenges and the involvement of the European Court of Human Rights to temporarily stop the removal.

–       Kazim, from Afghanistan. Kazim had traveled from Germany to Sweden, where the authorities requested that Germany take him back. Germany accepted to take over responsibility for examining his asylum claim, but his application was rejected by the German authorities as being manifestly unfounded as he missed his asylum interview and was deemed not to have offered a reasonable explanation for his absence. Actually, he was still in Sweden as the Swedish authorities only sent him back two weeks after the scheduled interview.

All the statements have been anonymised to protect identities.



Ana López Fontal

Senior Press & Public Information Officer


Tel. +32 (0)2 212 08 12 – Mob. +32 (0)4 74 34 05 25