Protection of unaccompanied minors in EU

On 6 May European Commission adopted Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors with an aim to increase protection of minors without care entering EU, to ensure that a decision regarding each minor is taken by a competent authority as soon as possible and to create a common European approach regarding this issue.
Minors arrive to EU for a number of different reasons, for example to escape wars, poverty or discrimination. Some are victims of trafficking. According to Eurostat in 2009 10 960 unaccompanied minors applied for refugee status in 22 Member States, that is 13% more compared to 2008.

Recommendations of the Action Plan refer to the three main issues: prevention of unsafe migration and trafficking, reception and procedural guarantees in the EU and identification of durable solutions. As a priority members States should find the family of the child and monitor reintegration in the country of origin, as long as this is in the best interest of the child. Otherwise Member States should find alternative solutions including granting international protection status or resettlement in the EU.

The Action Plan is based on ten principles:

  • Unaccompanied minor should be treated as children and their best interest should be the primary consideration in all actions concerning them.
  • All children should be treated in accordance with the rules and principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • All possible efforts should be made to create an environment allowing children to grow up in their countries of origin with good prospects for personal development and decent standards of living.
  • Children should be protected from traffickers and criminal groups and other forms of violence or exploitation.
  • Every effort should be made to trace the family of the child and to reunite the child with the family provided that this is in the best interest of the child. 
  • Child-specific reception measures and procedural guarantees should apply from the moment the child is found at the external border or within a Member State until a durable solution is found. Guardianship and legal representation of the child are of crucial importance. 
  • A decision on the future of each child should be taken within the shortest possible period, preferably within six months.
  • Unaccompanied minors should always be placed in appropriate accommodation and treated in a manner that is fully compatible with their best interests. Detention can be used only as a measure of last resort. 
  • Durable solutions should be determined on the basis of an individual assessment of the best interests of the child. They should consist of return to the country of origin where reintegration of the child should be guaranteed, granting international protection status or another legal status allowing the child to integrate in the Member State of residence, or resettlement in the European Union. 
  • All interested parties should join forces and strengthen their efforts in addressing the issue of unaccompanied minors and ensuring that the best interest of the child is protected.


Submitted by admin on Tue, 2010-05-11 09:56.