‘(9) In applying this Directive, Member States should seek to ensure full compliance with the principles of the best interests of the child and of family unity, in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms respectively.‘
Article 14 Schooling and education of minors
‘1. Member States shall grant to minor children of applicants and to applicants who are minors access to the education system under similar conditions as their own nationals for so long as an expulsion measure against them or their parents is not actually enforced. Such education may be provided in accommodation centres.
The Member State concerned may stipulate that such access must be confined to the State education system.
Member States shall not withdraw secondary education for the sole reason that the minor has reached the age of majority.
2. Access to the education system shall not be postponed for more than three months from the date on which the application for international protection was lodged by or on behalf of the minor.
Preparatory classes, including language classes, shall be provided to minors where it is necessary to facilitate their access to and participation in the education system as set out in paragraph 1.
3. Where access to the education system as set out in paragraph 1 is not possible due to the specific situation of the minor, the Member State concerned shall offer other education arrangements in accordance with its national law and practice.‘
Article 23 Minors
‘1. The best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration for Member States when implementing the provisions of this Directive that involve minors. Member States shall ensure a standard of living adequate for the minor’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
2. In assessing the best interests of the child, Member States shall in particular take due account of the following factors:
(a) family reunification possibilities;
(b) the minor’s well-being and social development, taking into particular consideration the minor’s background;
(c) safety and security considerations, in particular where there is a risk of the minor being a victim of human trafficking;
(d) the views of the minor in accordance with his or her age and maturity.
3. Member States shall ensure that minors have access to leisure activities, including play and recreational activities appropriate to their age within the premises and accommodation centres referred to in Article 18(1)(a) and (b) and to open-air activities.
4. Member States shall ensure access to rehabilitation services for minors who have been victims of any form of abuse, neglect, exploitation, torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, or who have suffered from armed conflicts, and ensure that appropriate mental health care is developed and qualified counselling is provided when needed.
5. Member States shall ensure that minor children of applicants or applicants who are minors are lodged with their parents, their unmarried minor siblings or with the adult responsible for them whether by law or by the practice of the Member State concerned, provided it is in the best interests of the minors concerned.‘
Article 24 Unaccompanied minors
‘1. Member States shall as soon as possible take measures to ensure that a representative represents and assists the unaccompanied minor to enable him or her to benefit from the rights and comply with the obligations provided for in this Directive. The unaccompanied minor shall be informed immediately of the appointment of the representative. The representative shall perform his or her duties in accordance with the principle of the best interests of the child, as prescribed in Article 23(2), and shall have the necessary expertise to that end. In order to ensure the minor’s well-being and social development referred to in Article 23(2)(b), the person acting as representative shall be changed only when necessary. Organisations or individuals whose interests conflict or could potentially conflict with those of the unaccompanied minor shall not be eligible to become representatives.
Regular assessments shall be made by the appropriate authorities, including as regards the availability of the necessary means for representing the unaccompanied minor.
2. Unaccompanied minors who make an application for international protection shall, from the moment they are admitted to the territory until the moment when they are obliged to leave the Member State in which the application for international protection was made or is being examined, be placed:
(a) with adult relatives;
(b) with a foster family;
(c) in accommodation centres with special provisions for minors;
(d) in other accommodation suitable for minors.
Member States may place unaccompanied minors aged 16 or over in accommodation centres for adult applicants, if it is in their best interests, as prescribed in Article 23(2).
As far as possible, siblings shall be kept together, taking into account the best interests of the minor concerned and, in particular, his or her age and degree of maturity. Changes of residence of unaccompanied minors shall be limited to a minimum.
3. Member States shall start tracing the members of the unaccompanied minor’s family, where necessary with the assistance of international or other relevant organisations, as soon as possible after an application for international protection is made, whilst protecting his or her best interests. In cases where there may be a threat to the life or integrity of the minor or his or her close relatives, particularly if they have remained in the country of origin, care must be taken to ensure that the collection, processing and circulation of information concerning those persons is undertaken on a confidential basis, so as to avoid jeopardising their safety.
4. Those working with unaccompanied minors shall have had and shall continue to receive appropriate training concerning their needs, and shall be bound by the confidentiality rules provided for in national law, in relation to any information they obtain in the course of their work.‘