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Rules Over Rights? Legal Aspects of the European Commission Recommendation for Resumption of Dublin Transfers of Asylum Seekers to Greece

  • Boryana Gotsova

Abstract

Five years after the Dublin transfers of asylum seekers to Greece were halted—due to recurrent failings in the detention conditions, living conditions, and asylum procedure—the European Commission recommended a resumption of the practice. This Article analyzes the Recommendation in light of the human rights reports preceding and following it. The examination reveals that the renewal of systematic transfers would be premature, posing serious risks to the rights of asylum seekers under European and EU law. The restoration of a flawed system for distribution of asylum claims among the Member States—without fundamental reforms towards greater solidarity—may lead to a repetition of past mistakes. Despite the paramount importance of the Dublin system for the functioning of the Schengen Area, rule enforcement should not supersede human rights protection.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

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The author works in the area of public affairs. She holds a PhD in Public International Law from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski,” Bulgaria, and an L.L.M. in European Law from Leiden University, in the Netherlands. The author can be contacted by email at b.gotsova@gmail.com.

Footnotes

References

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1 U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2015, 2015 UNCHR Global Trends 5 (June 20, 2016), http://www.unhcr.org/576408cd7.

2 Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union art. 6(2), June 7, 2016, 2016 O.J. (C 202) 13.

3 Council Regulation 168/2007 of Feb. 15, 2007, Establishing a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2007 O.J. (L 53) 1 (EC).

4 Council Decision 2012/440/CFSP of July 25, 2012, Appointing the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, 2012 O.J. (L 200) 21 (EU).

5 Council Regulation 343/2003 of Feb. 18, 2003, Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Asylum Application Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National, 2003 O.J. (L 50) 1 (EC) [hereinafter Council Regulation 343/2003].

6 Id. art. 10(1). Although several other criteria hierarchically precede the one on irregular entry, this is the provision primarily used for determination of state responsibility.

7 See also Maarten den Heijer, Jorrit Rijpma & Thomas Spijkerboer, Coercion, Prohibition, and Great Expectations: The Continuing Failure of the Common European Asylum System, 53 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 607, 615 (2016).

8 M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. 255.

9 ECJ, Joined Cases C-411/10 & C-493/10, N.S. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, ECLI:EU:C:2011:865, Judgment of 21 Dec. 2011.

10 Bosphorus Hava Yolları Turizm & Ticaret Anonim Şirketi v. Ireland, 2005 VI Eur. Ct. H.R. 107.

11 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at para. 340.

12 See Evelien Brouwer, Mutual Trust and the Dublin Regulation: Protection of Fundamental Rights in the EU and the Burden of Proof, 9 Utrecht L. Rev. 135, 139–140 (2013); Cathryn Costello, Dublin-case NS/ME: Finally, an End to Blind Trust Across the EU?, 2 Asiel en Migrantenrecht 83, 84–85 (2012); Violeta Moreno-Lax, Dismantling the Dublin System: M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, 14 Eur. J. Migration & L. 1, 6–17 (2012).

13 N.S., Cases C-411/10 & C-493/10 at paras. 99–105.

14 Commission Recommendation 2016/2256 of Dec. 8, 2016, Addressed to the Member States on the Resumption of Transfers to Greece Under Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, recital 1, 2016 O.J. (L 340) 60 (EU) [hereinafter Recommendation 2016/2256].

15 Brouwer, supra note 12, at 136.

16 Costello, supra note 12, at 90–91; Valsamis Mitsilegas, Solidarity and Trust in the Common European Asylum System, 2 Comp. Migration Stud. 181, 184 (2014).

17 Brouwer, supra note 12, at 145–46 (endorsing the introduction of what she terms “rebuttable trust”); see also Costello, supra note 12, at 90.

18 See Paul Gragl, The Shortcomings of Dublin II: Strasbourg’s M.S.S. Judgment and Its Implications for the European Union’s Legal Order, 12 Eur. Y.B. Hum. Rts. 123 (Wolfgang Benedek et al. eds., 2012). The page citations in this Article refer to the version available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id%3d2183677; see 8–9.

19 See Costello, supra note 12, at 91–92.

20 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union art. 52(3), June 7, 2016, 2016 O.J. (C 202) 389.

21 Brouwer, supra note 12, at 147.

22 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at pt. 9. Because the M.S.S. and N.S. judgments did not concern the particular situation of unaccompanied minors, and because the Commission specifically excludes vulnerable applicants from the scope of transfer resumption, those situations are not examined in the current Article.

23 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at para. 233.

24 It is worth noting that according to Laurens Lavrysen, the Dublin system itself was conducive to the extensive practice of detaining asylum seekers. Laurens Lavrysen, European Asylum Law and the ECHR: An Uneasy Coexistence, 4 Goettingen J. Int’l L. 197, 240 (2012).

25 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at paras. 225–30.

26 Id. at para. 232; see also id. at paras. 211, 219–20.

27 Id. at para. 227.

28 See, e.g., M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at paras. 226, 229–30.

29 Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, M.S.S. against Belgium and Greece, Council of Eur. para. 22 (May 29, 2012), https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectID%3d09000016805b7d90 [hereinafter Dep’t for the Execution of Judgments].

30 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recital 28, pt. 1(e).

31 Id. at recital 14, pt. 1.

32 Id. at recital 11.

33 Later on, the UNHCR and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations teamed up under the banner of the Emergency Support to Integration & Accommodation (ESTIA). The program for asylum seekers and refugees has provided €304 million since 2017 for urban accommodation and monthly cash grants. See Greece, Eur. Civil Prot. & Humanitarian Aid Operations (Jan. 29, 2019), http://ec.europa.eu/echo/where/europe/greece_en.

34 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from NGOs (International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)) (29/03/2016) in the Case of M.S.S. Against Greece (Application No. 30696/09) (2016), https://rm.coe.int/1680644726 [hereinafter Communication from ICJ & ECRE].

35 Id. at 11.

36 Id. at 8, 10.

37 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from a NGO (Greek Council for Refugees) (30/05/2016) in the Case of M.S.S. against Greece (Application No. 30696/09) 10 (2016), https://rm.coe.int/1680667b67 [hereinafter Communication from the Greek Council for Refugees].

38 To manage the migration inflow to the EU, it was agreed that all irregular migrants—those not applying for asylum or ineligible for protection—coming from Turkey to the Greek islands as of March 20, 2016 would be returned to Turkey. For every Syrian sent back to Turkey, another Syrian would be resettled from Turkey to the Union. For the full terms of the arrangement, see European Council, EU-Turkey statement, European Council Press Release (Mar. 18, 2016), http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/03/18-eu-turkey-statement/.

39 Communication from the Greek Council for Refugees, supra note 37, at 9–10.

40 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from a NGO (Amnesty International) (19/05/2016) in the Case of M.S.S. against Greece (Application No. 30696/09) 6–7 (2016), https://rm.coe.int/1680667a9f [hereinafter Communication from Amnesty International].

41 Communication from the Greek Council for Refugees, supra note 37, at 10–13.

42 Communication from Amnesty International, supra note 40, at 8.

43 Communication from ICJ & ECRE, supra note 34, at 13.

44 Communication from the Greek Council for Refugees, supra note 37, at 10.

45 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at para. 254.

46 Id. at para. 255.

47 Id. at paras. 258–64.

48 Gina Clayton, Asylum Seekers in Europe: M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, 11 Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 758, 765–69 (2011); Costello, supra note 12, at 85–86; Lavrysen, supra note 24, at 226–31.

49 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication by Greece Concerning the Case of M.S.S. against Belgium and Greece 5–7 (2011), https://rm.coe.int/168063cb6f (speaking of “un niveau de vie digne,” translated as “a dignified standard of living”) [hereinafter Action Plan–Communication by Greece].

50 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recital 9.

51 Id.

52 Id. at recital 12.

53 Id. at recital 13.

54 Id. at recital 14.

55 Directive 2013/33/EU, of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 Laying Down Standards for the Reception of Applicants for International Protection, 2013 O.J. (L 180) 96.

56 Regulation 604/2013, of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person, art. 3(2), 2013 O.J. (L 180) 31 (EU) [hereinafter Regulation 604/2013].

57 For instance, compare id. with N.S., Cases C-411/10 & C-493/10, at para. 86.

58 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at paras. 250–51, 263.

59 Greece: Refugee “Hotspots” Unsafe, Unsanitary, Hum. Rts. Watch (May 19, 2016), https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/19/greece-refugee-hotspots-unsafe-unsanitary.

60 Eva Cossé, Lesbos Fatal Blast a Stark Reminder of Hardships Refugees Face in Greece, Hum. Rts. Watch (Nov. 25, 2016), https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/25/lesbos-fatal-blast-stark-reminder-hardships-refugees-face-greece.

61 UNHCR Warns of Imminent Humanitarian Crisis in Greece amid Disarray in Europe over Asylum, U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees (Mar. 1, 2016), http://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2016/3/56d564ed6/unhcr-warns-imminent-humanitarian-crisis-greece-amid-disarray-europe-asylum.html.

62 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Europe: January to December 2017, at 49–51 (2016), http://www.unhcr.org/partners/donors/589497d07/2017-regional-refugee-migrant-response-plan-europe-january-december-2017.html.

63 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Bureau for Europe Weekly Report January 13, 2017, at 1 (2017), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/53012 (“Arrivals to Greece and Italy per Month” graph).

65 Asylum in the EU Member States, Eurostat (Mar. 16, 2017), http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7921609/3-16032017-BP-EN.pdf.

66 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recital 9.

67 Eur. Commission, supra note 64.

68 Letter from Catherine Woollard, Secretary-General, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, et al. to Jean-Claude Juncker, President, European Commission & Ioannis Mouzales, Minister of Migration Policy, Greece 6 (Dec. 15, 2016), http://test.solidaritynow.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Letter_CommissionMinistryMigration_final-1.pdf.

69 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at para. 286.

70 Id. at paras. 290–93.

71 Id. at paras. 294–97.

72 This was a reversal of the Court’s earlier case law, in which the reports of IOs and NGOs were generally disregarded when evaluated against the assertions of states. See Moreno-Lax, supra note 12, at 15–16.

73 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at paras. 301–02; see also id. at paras. 304–20.

74 Dep’t for the Execution of Judgments, supra note 29 at paras. 44–45.

75 Id. at para. 47.

76 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recitals 15–16, 23.

77 Action Plan–Communication by Greece, supra note 49, at 8.

78 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recital 25.

79 Id. at recital 17.

80 Id. at recitals 17–18.

81 Communication from Amnesty International, supra note 40, at 2.

82 Id. at 4.

83 Id.

84 Id.

85 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from Greece (15/03/2017) in Response to the Decision of the CM at its 1222nd Meeting (March 2015) Concerning the Cases of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece and RAHIMI v. Greece (Applications No. 30696/09, 8687/08) (2017), https://rm.coe.int/16806fe9aa (providing an “Asylum Applications” table in the Annex) [hereinafter Communication from Greece].

86 Communication from ICJ & ECRE, supra note 34, at 2–3.

87 Id. at 5–7.

88 Communication from the Greek Council for Refugees, supra note 37, at 1–3.

89 Id. at 4–5.

90 Id. at 6–9.

91 They particularly worried about the obligation to ensure that the asylum procedure would be administered entirely by civil servants. See Action Plan–Communication by Greece, supra note 49, at 14.

92 Communication from Greece, supra note 85.

93 Id.

94 Id. at 17, 21, 27.

95 Id. at 17–18.

96 Id. at 1.

97 Id.

98 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at para. 349.

99 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, UNHCR Recommendations for Greece in 2017 (2017), http://www.unhcr.org/58d8e8e64.pdf [hereinafter UNHCR Recommendations for Greece in 2017].

100 With respect to reception capacity on the Greek islands, in November 2017, the European Commission acknowledged that Greece was experiencing “another situation of severe overcrowding.” Commissioner Avramopoulos, European Agenda on Migration: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos on Consolidating the Progress Made, Eur. Comm’n (Nov. 15, 2017), http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-4688_en.htm.

101 UNHCR Recommendations for Greece in 2017, supra note 99, paras. 1–3, 6.

102 The Greek Ombudsman Independent Authority, Migration Flows and Refugee Protection: Administrative Challenges and Human Rights Issues 9 (Lambros Baltsiotis et al. eds., 2017), https://www.synigoros.gr/resources/docs/greek_ombudsman_migrants_refugees_2017_en.pdf.

103 Id. at 10–11 (talking about “the impression of an administration striving to meet demands that appear to constantly overwhelm it”).

104 Id. at 57.

105 Id. at 89–90.

106 Id. at 31–35.

107 1288th Meeting, 6–7 June 2017 on H46-15 M.S.S. and Rahimi Groups v. Greece (Application No. 30696/09), Ministers’ Deputies (June 7, 2017), https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId%3d090000168070e978.

108 Id.

109 Id.

110 The Recommendations estimate the timeframe for processing the applications of individuals pre-registered in the summer of 2016 on the mainland to two years. See UNHCR Recommendations for Greece in 2017, supra note 99, at para. 1.

111 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from an IGO (UNHCR) (05/05/2017) in the Case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (Application No. 30696/09) (2017), https://rm.coe.int/1680717876.

112 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from a NGO (The Open Society Justice Initiative) (09/08/2017) in the Case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (Application No. 30696/09) 2 (2017), https://rm.coe.int/168073e373 [hereinafter Communication from the Open Society Justice Initiative].

113 Id. at 6–7.

114 Id. at 7.

115 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from the Authorities (07/09/2017) Following a Communication from a NGO in the Case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (Applications No. 30696/09) (2017), https://rm.coe.int/1680743603.

116 Id.

117 Secretariat of the Comm. of Ministers, Communication from Greece Concerning the M.S.S. and RAHIMI Groups of Cases v. Greece (Applications No. 30696/09, 8687/08) (2019), https://rm.coe.int/168093cef7.

118 Id. at 52–53.

119 Id. at 52.

120 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recital 32.

121 Migration and Home Affairs, Temporary Reintroduction of Border Control, European Commission (Apr. 30, 2019), https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/schengen/reintroduction-border-control_en.

122 According to various authors, secondary movements result from the inherently unequal appeal of the various EU Member States due to a combination of personal, social, economic, and asylum policy factors. See Francesco Maiani, The Reform of the Dublin III Regulation 21–22 (2016), http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571360/IPOL_STU(2016)571360_EN.pdf; Den Heijer, Rijpma & Spijkerboer, supra note 7, at 608–10.

123 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recital 33.

124 Maiani, supra note 122, at 37.

125 Id. at 38.

126 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at recital 32.

127 For vivid portrayals of the level of discord between the Member States, see Catherine Stupp, Migration Row Mars EU Summit, Exposes Divides, Euractiv (Dec. 15, 2017), https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/eu-leaders-find-no-agreement-on-migration-at-council-summit/; Robert-Jan Bartunek, Italian HardLine Overshadows EU Migration Reform Talks, Reuters (June 5, 2018), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-italy/italian-hard-line-overshadows-eu-migration-reform-talks-idUSKCN1J12HK.

128 Scholars have argued that the underlying causes of the migration crisis have been the EU’s policy response and the inability to seek novel solutions, rather than the sheer numbers of incoming asylum seekers. See Den Heijer, Rijpma & Spijkerboer, supra note 7, at 641–42.

129 Resolution on the Situation in the Mediterranean and the Need for a Holistic EU Approach to Migration 15, Eur. Parl. Doc P8_TA(2016)0102 (2016), http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-8-2016-0102_EN.pdf [hereinafter European Parliament Resolution of 2016].

130 James C. Hathaway, E.U. Accountability to International Law: The Case of Asylum, 33 Mich. J. Int’l L. 1, 7 (2011); Lavrysen, supra note 24, at 241; Joanna Lenart, ‘Fortress Europe’: Compliance of the Dublin II Regulation with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 28 Merkourios: Utrecht J. Int’l & Eur. Migration L. 4, 5 (2012).

131 For a concise, yet thorough, review of the main arguments against the Regulation in its 2003 version applicable to the M.S.S. judgment, see Lavrysen, supra note 24, at 220–22. Further discussion of the most problematic aspects of the Dublin II Regulation—from the point of view of fundamental rights and asylum rights—may also be found in Lenart, supra note 130, at 12–17. A convincing argument about the key structural flaws of the Dublin system is made by Maiani, supra note 122, at 20–26.

132 Clayton, supra note 48, at 760; Costello, supra note 12, at 92; Lenart, supra note 130, at 13.

133 Lenart, supra note 130, at 5–6.

134 Costello, supra note 12, at 92; Lavrysen, supra note 24, at 225.

135 Lavrysen, supra note 24, at 226.

136 Regulation 604/2013, art. 33.

137 Den Heijer, Rijpma & Spijkerboer, supra note 7, at 613.

138 Mitsilegas, supra note 16, at 197–98.

139 Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person (Recast), European Commission, COM (2016) 270 (May 4, 2016).

140 See id. at ch. III.

141 Maiani, supra note 122, at 24–25.

142 Id. at 6, 36.

143 In their opinions on the proposal, both the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee have asserted that the threshold for triggering the mechanism is too high, which would diminish its practical usefulness. See Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions—Reform of the Common European Asylum System, 2017 O.J. (C 185) 91; Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast)’, 2017 O.J. (C 34) 144.

144 Corinne Balleix, Dublin and Schengen—Restoring Confidence and Strengthening Solidarity between Member States of the European Union, Eur. Issues & interviews (May 15, 2017), https://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/european-issues/0434-dublin-and-schengen-restoring-confidence-and-strengthening-solidarity-between-member-states-of; Maiani, supra note 122, at 36–37.

145 Maiani, supra note 122, at 35–37, 42–43.

146 Den Heijer, Rijpma & Spijkerboer, supra note 7; Andrei Dragan, Dublin III and Beyond: Between Burden-Sharing and Human Rights Protection, 2 Pécs J. Int’l & Eur. L. 84 (2017).

147 Maiani, supra note 122, at 8, 53–56; Marcello Di Filippo, From Dublin to Athens: A Plea for a Radical Rethinking of the Allocation of Jurisdiction in Asylum Procedures (2016), http://immigrazione.jus.unipi.it/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2016/02/IIHL-A-plea-for-the-reform-of-the-Dublin-system-policy-brief-def.pdf.

148 Report on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person (Recast), A8-0345/2017 (Nov. 6, 2017). The European Parliament’s negotiating mandate for reform of the Dublin system was adopted on November 16, 2017.

149 See Note from the Presidency to the Permanent Representatives Committee/Council, Council of the European Union 9781/17 (June 2, 2017).

150 Note from the Presidency to the Council, Council of the European Union 9520/18 (May 30, 2018), at pts. 11–14.

151 Id. at pts. 20, 21, 24, Annex II.

152 Id. at pts. 23–24, Annexes I, IV.

153 European Council Press Release 421/18, European Council Conclusions (June 28, 2018), http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/06/29/20180628-euco-conclusions-final/pdf.

154 European Commission Press Release IP/17/5123, Future-Proof Migration Management: European Commission Sets Out Way Forward (Dec. 7, 2017) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-5132_en.htm.

155 ECJ, Case C-646/16, Jafari v. Bundesamt für Fremdenwesen und Asyl, ECLI:EU:C:2017:586, Judgment of 26 July 2017, paras. 87–94.

156 Where a genuine risk of inhuman or degrading treatment arises due to a mass inflow of asylum seekers. Jafari, Case C-646/16 at para. 101.

157 Id. at para. 88.

158 Id. at paras. 89, 97.

159 Id. at paras. 94–101. The CJEU listed several measures that could theoretically avert or allay the occurrence of insupportable pressure on the asylum system of a Member State in case of a sudden and large inflow.

160 For a review of the EU legal provisions mandating solidarity in the area of asylum, see Paul McDonough & Evangelia (Lilian) Tsourdi, The “Other” Greek Crisis: Asylum and EU Solidarity, 31 Refugee Surv. Q. 67, 74–76 (2012).

161 Council Decision 2015/1523 of Sept. 14, 2015, Establishing Provisional Measures in the Area of International Protection for the Benefit of Italy and of Greece, 2015 O.J. (L 239) 146 (EU); Council Decision 2015/1601 of Sept. 22, 2015, Establishing Provisional Measures in the Area of International Protection for the Benefit of Italy and Greece, 2015 O.J. (L 248) 80 (EU).

162 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Europe Monthly Report—June 2018, at 2 (2018), https://data2.unhcr.org/ar/documents/download/65078.

163 European Commission Fact Sheet MEMO/17/349, Questions and Answers: Commission Calls for Renewed Efforts in Implementing Solidarity Measures under the European Agenda on Migration, (Mar. 2, 2017).

164 Progress Report on the Implementation of the European Agenda on Migration, at 17, COM (2018) 301 (May 16, 2018).

165 European Parliament Resolution of 2016, supra note 129, at 13; Maiani, supra note 122, at 19; see also Greek Ombudsman Independent Authority, Relocation Revisited: The Greek Case 45–50 (Aeverie J. Polintan ed., 2019), https://www.synigoros.gr/resources/docs/20190215-relocation-go-report.pdf (delivering data-driven findings relevant to this point).

166 On December 7, 2017, the European Commission announced that it had decided to refer the three countries to the Court of Justice of the EU. See European Commission Press Release IP/17/5002, Relocation: Commission Refers the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the Court of Justice, (Dec. 7, 2017) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-5002_en.htm. Importantly, on September 6, 2017, the CJEU dismissed the challenges by Slovakia and Hungary against one of the Council Decisions—Decision 2015/1601—establishing a provisional mechanism for mandatory relocation. See ECJ, Joined Cases C-643/15 & C-647/15, Slovak Republic & Hungary v. Council of the European Union, ECLI:EU:C:2017:631, Judgment of 6 Sept. 2017.

167 Communication from Greece, supra note 85, at 31.

168 Id. at 1–2.

169 Greek Ombudsman Independent Authority, Migration Flows and Refugee Protection, supra note 102, at 36. Disappointment with the results of the relocation scheme, given its considerably greater potential, is also expressed in the Ombudsman’s 2019 follow-up report—Greek Ombudsman Independent Authority, Relocation Revisited, supra note 165.

170 Greek Ombudsman Independent Authority, Migration Flows and Refugee Protection, supra note 102, at 36.

171 European Asylum Support Office, Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union 2017 67 (2018), https://www.easo.europa.eu/sites/default/files/Annual-Report-2017-Final.pdf.

172 Hellenic Republic Ministry of Migration Policy Asylum Serv., Statistical Data of the Greek Dublin Unit (7.6.2013 - 28.02.2019) (2019), http://asylo.gov.gr/en/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Dublin-stats_February19EN.pdf.

173 Id.

174 The Arrangement was leaked by a Greek NGO. See The Administrative Arrangement Between Greece and Germany, Refugee Support Aegean (Nov. 1, 2018), https://rsaegean.org/en/the-administrative-arrangement-between-greece-and-germany/.

175 Id. at pts. 1, 3.

176 Id. at pts. 7, 9.

177 Bisher Nur Elf Asylbewerber an Grenze Abgewiesen [So far only Eleven Asylum Seekers Rejected at the Border], Spiegel (Mar. 3, 2019), http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/fluechtlinge-bisher-nur-elf-asylbewerber-an-grenze-abgewiesen-a-1256025.html.

178 Stathis Poularakis, The Case of the Administrative Arrangement between Greece and Germany: A Tale of “ParaDublin Activity”?, Eur. Database of Asylum L. (Nov. 5, 2018), https://www.asylumlawdatabase.eu/en/journal/case-administrative-arrangement-between-greece-and-germany-tale-%E2%80%9Cparadublin-activity%E2%80%9D; European Council on Refugees & Exiles, Bilateral Agreements: Implementing or Bypassing the Dublin Regulation? Policy Paper 5 (2018), https://www.ecre.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Policy-Papers-05.pdf; Constantin Hruschka, Gewolltes Recht [Desired Law], Verfassungsblog (Nov. 2, 2018), https://verfassungsblog.de/gewolltes-recht.

179 Bisher Nur Elf Asylbewerber an Grenze Abgewiesen, supra note 177.

180 Alexandros Konstantinou & Athanasia Georgopoulou, Greek Council for Refugees, Country Report: Greece, 2018 Update 128–31 (2019), http://www.asylumineurope.org/sites/default/files/report-download/aida_gr_2018update.pdf.

181 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Greece Fact Sheet: Feb. 1–28, 2019 (2019), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/68627.

182 Why Greece Should #OpenTheIslands, Hum. Rts. Watch (Mar. 19, 2018), https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/03/19/why-greece-should-opentheislands.

183 The facts confirm Francesco Maiani’s observation that, while the suspension of transfers shields asylum seekers who have traveled onward to countries offering better reception and asylum procedures, those who have not fled from a Member State with systemic flaws are exposed to hardship. See Maiani, supra note 122, at 13.

184 Recommendation 2016/2256, supra note 14, at pt. 10, recitals 36–37.

185 M.S.S., 2011 I Eur. Ct. H.R. at para. 354. That finding was one of the contentious issues, as demonstrated by the partly concurring and partly dissenting opinion of Judge Sajó and the partly dissenting opinion of Judge Bratza.

186 For instance, the Belgian Council on Alien Law Litigation has, on various occasions, ruled against the transfer of asylum seekers to Bulgaria although the Dublin system is not officially suspended with respect to Bulgaria. See Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, Dublin: Belgium, Asylum Information Database, Eur. Council on Refugees & Exiles (2017), http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/belgium/asylum-procedure/procedures/dublin.

187 Germany: Administrative Court of Düsseldorf Rules against a Dublin Transfer to Greece Based on Serious Shortcomings in the Greek Asylum System, Eur. Database of Asylum L. (Oct. 26, 2017), http://www.asylumlawdatabase.eu/en/content/germany-administrative-court-d%C3%BCsseldorf-rules-against-dublin-transfer-greece-based-serious.

188 Verwaltungsgericht Düsseldorf [VG Düsseldorf] [Administrative Court Düsseldorf] Oct. 26, 2017, Case No. 12 L 4591/17.A, paras. 17–23, 26–27, (Oct. 26, 2017), https://www.justiz.nrw.de/nrwe/ovgs/vg_duesseldorf/j2017/12_L_4591_17_A_Beschluss_20171026.html.

189 Regulation 604/2013, art. 3(2).

190 See Council Regulation 343/2003, art. 3(2).

191 Gragl, supra note 18, at 8; Lenart, supra note 130, at 17.

192 Mitsilegas, supra note 16, at 194–96.

193 Compare Regulation 604/2013, art. 3(2) with N.S., Cases C-411/10 & C-493/10 at para. 94.

194 Some commentators have argued that the Court set the bar quite high. See Mitsilegas, supra note 16, at 192, 194; Dragan, supra note 146, at 86.

195 Conseil du Contentieux des Etrangers [Council of Alien Law Litigation] June 8, 2018, No. 205.104, paras. 4.3.5.4, 4.3.11, http://www.rvv-cce.be/sites/default/files/arr/a205104.an_.pdf (Belg.).

196 See ECJ, Case C-578/16 PPU et al. v. Republika Slovenija, ECLI:EU:C:2017:127, Judgment of 16 Feb. 2017, paras. 91–96.

197 ECJ, Case C-163/17 Jawo v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland, ECLI:EU:C:2019:218, Judgment of 19 Mar. 2019, paras. 91–93.

198 650,000 First-Time Asylum Seekers Registered in 2017, Eurostat (Mar. 20, 2018), http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/8754388/3-20032018-AP-EN.pdf/50c2b5a5-3e6a-4732-82d0-1caf244549e3.

199 Id.

200 580,800 First-Time Asylum Seekers Registered in 2018, Down by 11% Compared with 2017, Eurostat (Mar. 14, 2019), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/9665546/3-14032019-AP-EN.pdf/eca81dc5-89c7-4a9d-97ad-444b6bd32790.

201 Id.

202 The Dublin III Regulation has been criticized for ignoring the variations in Member States’ capacity to provide protection to asylum seekers. See Den Heijer, Rijpma & Spijkerboer, supra note 7, at 613.

203 For a discussion about the potential outcome of a case like M.S.S. had the EU acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights, see Gragl, supra note 18, at 10–11.

* The author works in the area of public affairs. She holds a PhD in Public International Law from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski,” Bulgaria, and an L.L.M. in European Law from Leiden University, in the Netherlands. The author can be contacted by email at .

Keywords

Rules Over Rights? Legal Aspects of the European Commission Recommendation for Resumption of Dublin Transfers of Asylum Seekers to Greece

  • Boryana Gotsova

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