Key facts of the case:
This reference was made in the course of proceedings between Mrs Chakroun and the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning the refusal to issue a provisional residence permit to Mrs Chakroun. Mr Chakroun, who is of Moroccan nationality, resided in the Netherlands since 21 December 1970 and holds a residence permit there for an indefinite period. On 10 March 2006, Mrs Chakroun applied to the Netherlands Embassy in Rabat (Morocco) for a provisional residence permit in order to live with her husband, to whom she had been married since July 1972. The Minister refused that application on the ground that Mr Chakroun was not in receipt of sufficient income (which was his unemployment benefit provided by the state) within the meaning of the national legislation. This legislation required a minimum level of income higher than the unemployment benefit.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The Court held that “the margin for manoeuvre which the Member States are recognised as having must not be used by them in a manner which would undermine the objective of the Directive, which is to promote family reunification” (para 43).
The phrase ‘recourse to the social assistance system’ in Article 7(1)(c) of Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification must be interpreted as precluding a Member State from adopting rules in respect of family reunification which result in such reunification being refused to a sponsor who has proved that he has stable and regular resources which are sufficient to maintain himself and the members of his family, but who, given the level of his resources, will nevertheless be entitled to claim special assistance in order to meet exceptional, individually determined, essential living costs, tax refunds granted by local authorities on the basis of his income, or income-support measures in the context of local-authority minimum-income policies (‘minimabeleid’)" (para 52).
Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:
The Court confirmed that the Directive was explicitly framed to respect fundamental rights and observe the principles recognised in particular in Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Consequently national “measures concerning family reunification should be adopted in conformity with the obligation to protect the family and respect family life enshrined in many instruments of international law” (para 44). “… Article 7 of the Charter … do(oes) not draw any distinction based on the circumstances in and time at which a family is constituted (para 63).