CJEU: Member States shall consider those who turned 18 after the submission of the application for family reunification as minors

Thursday, July 16, 2020

On 16 July 2020, the European Court of Justice published its judgment  in cases C-133/19, C-136/19 and C-137/19 concerning the interpretation of the right to family reunification in cases where applicants reach the age of majority during the course of proceedings.

The applicant, recognised as a refugee by Belgium, applied for the family reunification of their three minor children at the Belgian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal in December 2013. Their subsequent requests were rejected on the basis that, inter alia, the birth dates of two applicants were different to those the father had provided, and one applicant had reached the age of majority. The applicant appealed against the decision before the Conseil d’État arguing that the interpretation of the Conseil des contentieux du étrangers violated the principle of effectiveness of EU law and the right to an effective remedy, in so far as it prevented them from enjoying their right to family reunification under Article 4 of Directive 2003/86. The Court suspended proceedings and referred to the Court for a preliminary ruling. The opinion of Advocate General Hogan was published on 19 March 2020. 

The Court observed, inter alia, that the objective of Directive 2003/86 is to promote family reunification and grant protection to third country nationals and minor applicants. It added that the provisions of this Directive must be interpreted and applied in light of the right to respect for private and family life and in conjunction with the principle of the best interests of the child. As such, the Court concluded that using the date on which a competent authority decides on the application for family reunification as the reference date for assessing the age of an applicant would be inconsistent with the objectives pursued by Directive 2003/86.

Similarly, if national courts could reject as inadmissible an appeal on family reunification only because the family member had turned 18 in the meanwhile, the applicant’s right to an effective remedy would be compromised. Moreover, using the date on which a decision on the request was made to determine an applicant’s age would not make it possible to ensure the identical and predictable treatment for all applicants.

Thank you to Francesca Zalambani, Legal Assistant at ECRE, for assisting us with the summary. Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team.

Photo: triin, May 2007, Flickr (CC)

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Effective remedy (right to)
Family reunification