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Member States hampering family reunification are in breach with EU law


18 Dec 2012


EU Priorities 2020
Justice & Home Affairs
Social Europe & Jobs

17.12.12 - On the International Migrants Day, Caritas Europa calls on Member States that are not complying with the Family Reunification Directive to change stance and stop shattering families and causing unnecessary suffering.


Several Member States have still not properly transposed the EU Directive on Family Reunification and are systematically using illegal conditions to prevent families from reunification. This is done in breach of EU rules and against the ruling of the EU Court of Justice of 2010 that clearly states that the Directive's aim is to promote family reunification.


“This is a real tragedy that strikes so many families right now. Member States’ leaders must understand that their stance of non-compliance with EU rules not only has a legal aspect but also, and more importantly, a human and social side! These decisions on non-compliance are literally destroying families, causing unnecessary suffering, especially among the affected children, and so distressing the social cohesion in the countries of origin and destination” says Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.


In 2010, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the directive’s goal is “to promote family reunification” and reminded the directive own wording that “measures concerning family reunification should be adopted in conformity with the obligation to protect the family and respect family life…” and that family reunification “is a necessary way of making family life possible” that “facilitates integration” and “promotes economic and social cohesion”, which is a fundamental EU objective stated in the Treaty.


“This ruling was crucial and clearly stressed to all Member States what is the core objective of the Directive, meaning in what sense they have to work. Unfortunately, countries like the Netherlands, Germany or the UK are still imposing unfair and “illegal” conditions to family reunification” says Karolina Babicka, Caritas Europa Advocacy and Policy Officer on Asylum and Migration.


Some bad practices among Member States


The Netherlands and Germany infringe the Directive because they do condition the issuing of visa for the family members in the country of origin to a test in the country of origin, which is not in line with the Directive.


The Netherlands also infringes the Directive, along with Belgium, France and Slovenia, because they automatically reject any application submitted by anyone whose possessed resources are below the threshold set out in the respective national laws. This is also illegal since the Directive explicitly requests that despite setting out a threshold, Member States must base their decision on individual examinations of each case. 


A happy-ending story

Oscar (NtE: The name has been changed) was 8 years when he finally was able to reunify with his mother, a Colombian migrant who came to work in Spain. When she left Oscar in the custody of his grandmother in Colombia, the boy was only 4. They were not to live together again for the next 4 years due to red-tape formalities. Four long years tainted of depression, anxieties and suffering, Oscar was constantly hospitalised in Colombia because his small body could not cope with the level of stress he was subjected to. Meanwhile in Spain, Caritas was helping Oscar's mother with all the formalities around the procedure of family reunification. Fortunately, Oscar is today a wealthy teenager, who lives a normal life surrounded by parents and friends in Spain. But for every good-ending story like this one, there are hundreds of tragically ending ones.



For more information on this subject
Karolina Babicka

Policy and Advocacy Officer

Migration and Asylum
+32 (0)2 235 26 55


For media relations

Thorfinnur Omarsson
Communication Officer
+32 (0)473 34 13 93

Caritas Europa is the umbrella organisation of the European netwok of 49 Caritas member organisations, working in 46 European countries. Guided by a deep belief in the inviolable dignity of the human person, Caritas Europa
has a heartfelt commitment to analyse and fight poverty and social exclusion.