From the beginning of the establishment of the Dublin System, the question of uniting families was seen as the criterion which should precede the application of the other allocation criteria. The dublin convention from 1999 however only contained one single provision on family unity, whereas already the Dublin II Regulation provided several norms obliging states to unite families or to keep families united during the procedure determining the responsible state. Evaluation of both legal instruments clearly illustrated that the guarantees for family unity were not sufficient. The Dublin II regulation further extended the obligations for states to unite families.
The aim of this contribution is to analyse the improvements and still existing gaps of the recast Dublin regulation in this respect. This analysis also takes into account that family unity is not only based on the application of the Dublin III- Regulation but also depends on the provisions transposing and implementing the Reception Conditions Directive. Adjusted procedural rules and provisions on the tracing of family members in the other legal acts establishing the Common European Asylum System should guarantee that families are reunited. Thus also horizontal issues play a crucial role. The question whether or not families remain or are united has strong human rights implications as the right to family life established for example by article 8(2) of the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) could be violated when families are separated without justifications. It is not surprising that the question is a pressing issue for practitionners as they are confronted with a variety of Scenarios where families are separated during their flight, where family members decide or are forced to seek refugee at different times, where they end up in different states or where even minor children seek for protection without being accompanied by an adult family member or another adult person taking care of them.