An estimated 20% of children arriving in Europe have a family member in the region who they have a legal right to reunite with under the Dublin III treaty, which states that an unaccompanied or separated child in an EU country has the right to travel to another EU country to join a relative and have his or her asylum application examined in that country. While according to the regulation, respect for family life is supposed to be the highest criteria when deciding on where a child should go, the law has widely not been applied in practice. This leads to situations in which children end up stuck in their country of first arrival, waiting for long administrative processes separated from their family or making their own way across Europe in dangerous conditions with the hope to reach their family, sometimes being stuck at the border and ending up in terrible conditions. While member states should devote more time and resources to apply the law, other main reasons for this underuse of family reunification range from a lack of information on the process and limited cross-border connections of actors working with children to operationalise transfers, lack of information that children receive on their rights, slow processes, as well as difficulty for case workers and lawyers to find evidence and to trace family members.
In order to address the above challenges, this project led by Safe Passage in Italy, Greece, France and at Pan-European level aims to strengthen the response of actors across Europe by facilitating collaborative working, delivering training and providing resources to share best practice and expertise. By improving the knowledge, skills and cooperation of actors working with children across the region on family reunification, there is potential to increase the rate at which Dublin-eligible children can reach safety by reuniting with their family in Europe and therefore to work towards their long-term prospects.