by Aggelos Skordas
By the end of October, Greece is expected to accept back the first rejected asylum applicant by another European Union member state, sources from the Greek Asylum Service's say. The return of the first migrant to Greece marks the reinstatement of the so called Dublin Regulation, according to which any asylum application filed must be processed by the European Union member state in which the applicant first arrived. The return will take place after Greek authorities accepted a request from Berlin regarding a third-country national who was granted a visa from Greece, then travelled to Germany and applied for asylum.
Certain Dublin Agreement provisions have been suspended since 2011, following two judgments by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which identified “systemic deficiencies” in the Greek Asylum Service, on the grounds that it could not meet its obligations. The Dublin Regulation on the Return of Migrants and Asylum Seekers was reactivated for Greece on 15 March, 2017, and concerns individuals who entered the European Union from the Greek territory and were arrested within the European Union. Within the last 30 days Greece received 1,003 return requests from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany (891), Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. The vast majority of them (891) come are concerning third-country nationals that arrived in Germany. Of these requests, 486 have been rejected, 35 have been accepted, 38 have been withdrawn and 444 are pending.
In Summer 2015, when the migrant crisis reached its peak, voices calling for the re-evaluation of certain Dublin Regulation provisions in both Greece and Italy -the first countries of entry to the European Union for the vast majority of asylum seekers- increased dramatically as the two countries met significant difficulties in coping with the mass flows. It should be noted that the majority of outgoing transfers under the Dublin Regulation continue to take place in the context of family reunification. In 2016, 946 transfers were carried out, the vast majority of which on family reunification grounds.