Constant arrivals of non-accompanied minors (MENA) in the European Union

An emerging reality over recent years throughout Europe is the arrival of foreign minors (MENA). These are foreign minors under the age of eighteen who are nationals of a non-EU state who arrive in European territory without a responsible adult or who abandon them once they are here.

According to UNICEF, the countries with most arrivals of these youths in 2017 were: Italy (15,779), Spain (2,426) and Greece (1,458), and it is estimated that the total number of arrivals in European Union countries was 20,000 non-accompanied foreign minors.

The reason for this increase cannot be explained by one factor alone, as there is a synergy of factors that come into play when a minor ventures into a foreign country in an irregular way. The situations that tend to occur may be: an armed conflict in the country of origin, the hope of a better life, to help their families, because of the poverty they are subjected to in their country of origin, because of the discrimination they suffer, because they are victims of people trafficking or several other reasons.

Because of this increase in destitute youths, the European Union developed the following directives and regulations:

  1. The directive regarding conditions of reception:it aims to guarantee better reception and more harmonised conditions all over the Union. It ensures that applicants have access to housing, food, clothes, healthcare, education and access to employment with certain conditions.
  2. The Directive regarding asylum conditions: it establishes common procedures for all EU member states to concede and withdraw international protection.
  3. The classification Directive: this establishes criteria to classify the status of the refugee, for subsidiary protection and defines the rights conceded to beneficiaries of these conditions. This directive allows member states to apply or maintain more favourable standards than those established in their provisions.
  4. The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF):  was constituted for the 2014-2020 period. It promotes the efficient management of migratory flows and the implementation, the reinforcement and development of a common Union focus on asylum and immigration.

The Dublin Regulation establishes that the member state is responsible for examining the asylum application. It guarantees quick access to asylum procedures and the in-depth examination of an application for a clearly determined particular state member.

Moreover, there still exists the action plan of the European Union regarding non-accompanied foreigners (2010-2014), an instrument of the European Commission that tries to establish the bases for action by establishing as a first priority the best interest of the minor.

The afore-mentioned regulations are neither homogeneous nor binding, meaning that they are neither specific nor obligatory to any state member of the European Union, as they involve recommendations that may or may not be complied with.


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