Non-EU parents ‘have right to live in Europe’

family life

Parents from outside the European Union have the right to live in an EU country if their children are citizens, an international court has declared.

In a decision which could have significant implications for British people as the UK prepares to leave the EU, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in favour of a Venezuelan mother.

She had originally travelled to Europe on a tourist visa but ended up staying after she had a child with a Dutch national in 2009. She separated from the father two years later and became solely responsible for her daughter’s care. However she ran into trouble when authorities in the Netherlands refused to grant her any social welfare or child benefit payments as she did not have residence rights there.

The Luxembourg-based ECJ declared that the mother in this case should be granted all the rights that come with being a resident of the EU. If she was forced to leave, this would deprive the daughter of the “genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred” by her Dutch citizenship.

Additionally, the Court ruled that the principles in this case should be considered by EU member states in the future should they be faced with a similar scenario. Authorities should consider the implications for any children who have “a relationship of dependency” with a non-EU parent. Specifically, that denying residence rights to such parents would infringe upon their children’s rights by “obliging [them] to leave the territory of the EU”.

Read the ECJ decision here.

Photo of the European Union flag by Matt May via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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