New EMN report published: Children in migration


How do Member States ensure the protection of children in migration procedures, and what measures are in place in relation to guardianship, accommodation, transition into adulthood, and many more? This new report from the European Migration Network (EMN) maps the state of implementation in 2019 of the recommendations laid down in the 2017 European Commission Communication on the protection of children in migration.

The 2017 Communication of the European Commission sets out actions to reinforce the protection of all migrant children at EU and national levels. The EMN report provides comparable information and examples from 26 countries[1] across the key areas set out in the 2017 Communication, including identification, protection, reception, status determination procedures, guardianship and the integration of minors. The report reflects the situation in the Member States and Norway in 2019.

As the 2017 Communication points out, migrant children crossing borders must always be identified and registered as children and they should receive support from specially trained staff. The Communication also proposes key actions for safe and appropriate reception conditions and swift appointment of guardians for all unaccompanied minors. The key findings of the EMN report indicate that most of the countries under review foresee the presence of an official with adequate training during the identification and registration procedure of minors, and provide special training to border guards/police authorities. In terms or reception, families with children applying for asylum are in general accommodated in reception facilities for asylum seekers while unaccompanied minors are usually accommodated in special reception centres. Most Member States provide for a guardian or representative to unaccompanied minors recorded within the asylum system; in half of them, this support is also available for unaccompanied minors recorded within other migration procedures.

The 2017 Communication highlights the importance of early integration. The EMN report found that Member States generally do not have a specific policy or strategy for the integration of minors of a migrant background. However, national programmes promoting the integration of migrant children are implemented in some Member States, and some progress is reported in 2019. The 2017 Communication also underlines that administrative detention of children on migration grounds should always be in line with EU law, applied exclusively in exceptional circumstances, for the shortest time possible, and never in prison accommodation. According to the EMN report,  detention is legally permitted in several EU Member States for unaccompanied minors and minors with families, although this is only implemented as a last resort and under strong safeguards to protect the well-being of the child.

The information collected from Member States refers mainly to the legislative, policy and practice frameworks that the Member States have set in place. Additional material from non-governmental organisations helps to illustrate some of the challenges faced.[2]


[1] AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, DE, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HR, HU, IE, IT, LT, LU, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK, NO

[2] The following NGOs provided input for this Report: Missing Children Europe, European Network on Statelessness, Red Cross EU Office, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Defence for Children International Belgium, Project Play, PICUM, and Refugee Rights Europe..