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The protection of children in migration

The protection of children in migration

 

SUMMARY OF:

Communication (COM(2017) 211 final) on protecting children in migration

Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THIS COMMUNICATION AND OF ARTICLE 24 OF THE CHARTER?

The communication:

  • proposes urgent actions for the European Commission and EU agencies to protect children in migration* and makes recommendations to EU countries;
  • aims to ensure closer links between the asylum and migration authorities and child protection services.

Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out the right of children to:

  • such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being;
  • express their views freely and for such views to be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity;
  • maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.

In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration.

KEY POINTS

There are increasing numbers of children in migration arriving in the EU, many of whom are unaccompanied, and in 2015 and 2016 around 30% of asylum applicants in the EU were children, with a six-fold increase in the total number of child asylum applicants in the last 6 years. Migrant children are particularly vulnerable because of their age and distance from home, especially when they are separated from their parents.

Protecting children is about enforcing EU law and respecting the Charter of Fundamental Rights and international human rights law on the rights of the child. The communication sets out action to be carried out by the Commission and EU countries with the support of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Addressing root causes and protecting children

The Commission and the EU countries should:

Swift and comprehensive identification and protection

EU countries are encouraged to:

  • collect and exchange comparable data to facilitate responses to all cases of unaccompanied children going missing (reporting, protocols and procedures) and the verification of family links;
  • collect fingerprints and biometric data* in a child-friendly and gender-sensitive way;
  • ensure that a person responsible for child protection is present at an early stage in identification and at each hotspot*.

Reception in the EU

EU countries are encouraged to ensure:

  • initial vulnerability and needs assessments upon arrival, and subsequent procedures, are gender- and age-sensitive;
  • access to formal, inclusive education and to healthcare, psychosocial support, and other essential public services;
  • alternative care options, including foster/family-based care, are available to unaccompanied children;
  • child protection policies are in place in all reception facilities;
  • viable alternatives to detention are available and accessible;
  • effective reception monitoring;
  • full use of EASO guidance on the reception of unaccompanied children;

Determining status and procedural safeguards

The Commission and EU agencies will establish a European guardianship network to develop and share good practice and update guidance on age assessment. EU countries are encouraged to:

  • strengthen guardianship authorities so that guardians for all unaccompanied children are swiftly in place;
  • carry out reliable, multi-disciplinary, non-invasive age assessments;
  • ensure swift family tracing, within or outside the EU;
  • give priority to processing cases such as asylum applications in line with the urgency principle;
  • give priority to relocating unaccompanied children from Greece and Italy.

Ensuring durable solutions

EU countries are encouraged to ensure:

  • access to inclusive, formal education, within a short time span after arrival, access to healthcare and other essential public services;
  • support for the transition to adulthood and accessing education and training;
  • social inclusion such as through mixed, non-segregated housing;
  • increased resettlement in the EU for children in need of international protection;
  • family tracing and reintegration measures for children who will be returned to their country of origin.

Best interests of the child and effective use of data, research, training and funding

The Commission and the EU agencies will:

  • provide training, guidance and tools on best interests of the child assessments;
  • discuss improvements to EU-level data collection;
  • require organisations in direct contact with children to have internal child protection policies before being granted EU funding;
  • disseminate good practices on protecting children in migration through an online database.

EU countries are encouraged to:

BACKGROUND

For more information, including on the monitoring of implementation of this communication, see:

KEY TERMS

Children in migration: children (persons under 18) from non-EU countries who are forcibly displaced or migrate to and within the EU, accompanied or alone, whether or not seeking asylum.
Biometric data: Regulation (EU) 2016/679, the General Data Protection Regulation defines biometric data as personal data resulting from specific technical processing relating to the physical, physiological or behavioural characteristics of a natural person, which allow or confirm the unique identification of that natural person.
Hotspot: a section of the EU’s external borders characterised by ‘specific and disproportionate migratory pressure, consisting of mixed migratory flows’.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council — The protection of children in migration (COM(2017) 211 final, 12.4.2017)

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Title III — Equality — Article 24 — The rights of the child (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 398)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, amending Council Decision 2008/381/EC and repealing Decisions No 573/2007/EC and No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Decision 2007/435/EC (OJ L 150, 20.5.2014, pp. 168-194)

Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, pp. 60-95)

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 (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, pp. 96-116)

Regulation (EU) No 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 (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, pp. 31-59).

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Commission Recommendation 2013/112/EU of 20 February 2013 — Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage (OJ L 59, 2.3.2013, pp. 5-16)

Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA (OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, pp. 1-11)

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council — Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors (2010 – 2014) SEC(2010)534 final (COM(2010(213) final, 6.5.2010)

Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (OJ L 348, 24.12.2008, pp. 98-107)

Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification (OJ L 251, 3.10.2003, pp. 12-18)

last update 26.03.2018

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