More People to benefit from right to family

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Debates on the right to family reunification have been going on within the institutions of the European Union for over three years. On Wednesday this week Parliament’s Citizens’ Rights Committee called for more categories of people to be allowed to benefit from a new draft directive on the right of non-EU citizens to such reunification. In a report by Carmen CERDEIRA MORTERERO (PES, E), MEPs voted for a range of non-binding amendments making not only spouses but also registered and unmarried partners, irrespective of sex, eligible for family reunification, if the host Member State treats unmarried or registered partners in the same manner as married couples. Furthermore, MEPs not only want refugees, but also people who are entitled to stay in the Union on the basis of the less favourable “subsidiary protection” status to be entitled to family reunification.

Member States should also authorise the entry of parents, spouses or partners of applicants if they are unable to look after themselves and have no other means of support, say MEPs. And unmarried adult children should be authorised to enter if they are dependent on the applicant because of their state of health. While the Commission’s proposal leaves the question of the entry of these categories up to Member States, MEPs want harmonisation at Community level. The committee deleted a provision that Member States may refuse entry to a child aged over twelve if he or she does not meet existing national conditions for integration. It also deleted a provision that Member States may, for reasons of reception capacity, stipulate a waiting period of up to three years between submission of an application for reunification and the issuing of a residence permit to the family members concerned.

Another amendment states that Member States may require applicants to have lived for just one year (as opposed to two years in the Commission proposal) in their territory before they can have their family members join them. On the other hand, in the event of widowhood, divorce, separation, or death of relatives, MEPs say an independent residence permit should only be issued to people who have entered the Union for reasons of family reunification if they have been resident within the EU for a minimum of one year. The committee feels this is necessary to prevent misuse of the directive.

Applications should be submitted to the competent authorities in the Member State where the applicant is resident (i.e. not to consulates abroad). MEPs want to cut the period for taking a decision on an application from the nine months in the Commission proposal to six months. And they believe illness or disability should be ruled out as a ground for refusing to renew a residence permit. Finally, the committee voted for the transposition of the directive not to lead to a lower level of protection than is currently provided by individual Member States. Instead, they want Member States to be allowed to uphold existing national provisions that are more favourable to applicants than those laid down in the directive.
ective on the right of non-EU citizens to such reunification. In a report by Carmen CERDEIRA MORTERERO (PES, E), MEPs voted for a range of non-binding amendments making not only spouses but also registered and unmarried partners, irrespective of sex, eligible for family reunification, if the host Member State treats unmarried or registered partners in the same manner as married couples. Furthermore, MEPs not only want refugees, but also people who are entitled to stay in the Union on the basis of the less favourable “subsidiary protection” status to be entitled to family reunification.

Member States should also authorise the entry of parents, spouses or partners of applicants if they are unable to look after themselves and have no other means of support, say MEPs. And unmarried adult children should be authorised to enter if they are dependent on the applicant because of their state of health. While the Commission’s proposal leaves the question of the entry of these categories up to Member States, MEPs want harmonisation at Community level. The committee deleted a provision that Member States may refuse entry to a child aged over twelve if he or she does not meet existing national conditions for integration. It also deleted a provision that Member States may, for reasons of reception capacity, stipulate a waiting period of up to three years between submission of an application for reunification and the issuing of a residence permit to the family members concerned.

Another amendment states that Member States may require applicants to have lived for just one year (as opposed to two years in the Commission proposal) in their territory before they can have their family members join them. On the other hand, in the event of widowhood, divorce, separation, or death of relatives, MEPs say an independent residence permit should only be issued to people who have entered the Union for reasons of family reunification if they have been resident within the EU for a minimum of one year. The committee feels this is necessary to prevent misuse of the directive.

Applications should be submitted to the competent authorities in the Member State where the applicant is resident (i.e. not to consulates abroad). MEPs want to cut the period for taking a decision on an application from the nine months in the Commission proposal to six months. And they believe illness or disability should be ruled out as a ground for refusing to renew a residence permit. Finally, the committee voted for the transposition of the directive not to lead to a lower level of protection than is currently provided by individual Member States. Instead, they want Member States to be allowed to uphold existing national provisions that are more favourable to applicants than those laid down in the directive.