The UK has opted in to the Regulation that amends a single article in the Dublin Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 (“Dublin III”) concerning its application to unaccompanied children. The amendments concern the position of unaccompanied children who are applicants for international protection and who have no family member, sibling or relative present in the States covered by the Dublin Regulation. They are being made to reflect the Court of Justice of the European Union’s ruling in the case of MA and others (C-648/11) that the best interests of the child are generally best served by an asylum claim being considered in the State of the most recent application rather than, if different, the State where a child first lodged an application. The basic approach in the proposal is one that we and other States participating in the Dublin Regulation have been following since the Court’s ruling in June 2013, so opting in will have no additional impact on current practice.
The Government is fully committed to the system created by the Dublin Regulation, which determines which participating State is responsible for examining an application for international protection. The UK has opted in to all earlier proposals concerning the Dublin Regulation and the related Eurodac Regulation. Opting in to this single issue proposal concerning unaccompanied asylum seeking children is consistent with our strong support for the Dublin system as a whole, which has been of great benefit to the UK, enabling the removal of over 12,000 asylum individuals since 2003 to other participating States (Member States of the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
The Government will continue to consider the application of the UK’s right to opt in to forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case by case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and our ability to control immigration.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords