Migrants, the EU Court rejects France’s rejections at the border

The Court of Justice of the European Union has rejected France’s rejections of migrants at the border with Italy. The ruling came following an appeal from several French associations. The Luxembourg judges highlighted that “the EU ‘repatriation’ directive must always be applied, even in the case of internal border controls” temporarily restored by a member state. Irregular migrants, the EU Court has highlighted, must therefore be able to “benefit from a certain deadline to voluntarily leave the territory. Forced removal occurs only as a last resort” (SPECIAL MIGRANTS).

The repatriation directive

The Court stated that, in such a situation, a rejection measure can be adopted on the basis of the Schengen Borders Code but that, for the purposes of removing the interested party, the common rules and procedures provided for by the Directive must still be respected. “repatriations”, which can lead to the adoption of such a rejection measure being deprived of a large part of its usefulness.

The repatriation directive – the judges explained – applies in principle, starting from the moment in which the citizen of a third country, following his irregular entry into the territory of a Member State, is present in that territory without satisfying the conditions of entry, stay or residence, and is therefore in an irregular situation. “This also applies if, as in the case under examination, the interested party was caught at a border crossing located in the territory of the Member State in question. A person may in fact have entered the territory of a Member State even before having crossed a border crossing”.

The Court also recalls that Member States may detain a citizen of a third country, pending his removal, in particular if the citizen constitutes a threat to public order, and that they may repress the commission of crimes other than those relating solely to the circumstance of irregular entry. Furthermore – the judges recall – the repatriation directive does not prevent arrest or detention

of a third country national whose stay is illegal when he is suspected of having committed a crime other than simple irregular entry into the national territory, and in particular a crime which may constitute a threat to public order or security internal of the Member State concerned.