No. 15: EU Asylum Law for Unaccompanied Minors


  • Erin Cho
Publish Date:
August 16, 2016
Publication Title:
European Union Law Working Papers
Stanford Law School
Working Paper
  • Erin Cho, EU Asylum Law for Unaccompanied Minors, European Union Law Working Papers, No. 15, Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum (2016).
Related Organization(s):


This paper addresses EU asylum law for unaccompanied minors — non-EU nationals or stateless persons under the age of eighteen who arrive on the territory of a Member State unaccompanied by an adult responsible for them. Unaccompanied minors are an an extremely vulnerable population that faces immense challenges both during the journey to the European Union and thereafter. They are vulnerable as children, as migrants, and because they are alone. This extreme vulnerability is only exacerbated by how unaccompanied minors are received, processed, and treated at their point of entry into the EU. While the European Union has, through legislative measures, tried to harmonize and ensure high standards of protection for unaccompanied minors across all Member States, there unfortunately exist several shortcomings in the law and how it is implemented.

This paper examines such shortcomings by evaluating EU asylum law for unaccompanied minors and its application in different Member States. Specifically, this paper explores the following deficiencies in the law and its implementation: (a) the lack of a standard mechanism for identifying unaccompanied minors, (b) ambiguity regarding the role of the representative appointed to an unaccompanied minor, (c) overly broad requirements regarding the accommodations for unaccompanied minors, and (d) the absence of a complete ban on the detention of unaccompanied minors. The paper then concludes by offering recommendations on how the European Union can attempt to address these concerns and enhance the rights and protection of unaccompanied minors.