CJEU - C 179/11 / Judgment Cimade, Groupe d’information et de soutien des immigrés (GISTI) v Ministre de l’Intérieur, de l’Outre-mer, des Collectivités territoriales et de l’Immigration

Key facts of the case:
 
A preliminary ruling request was made in the proceedings between Cimade and the Groupe d’information et de soutien des immigrés (GISTI), on the one hand, and the Ministry for the Interior, Overseas Territories, Local and Regional Authorities and Immigration, on the other hand. Cimade and the GISTI applied to the Conseil d’État (Council of State), seeking to have the inter-ministerial  circular of 3 November 2009 annulled. They submit that that circular is contrary to the objectives of Directive 2003/9/EC in so far as it excludes asylum seekers from entitlement to the ATA where, in application of Regulation No 343/2003, the French Republic calls upon another Member State, which it considers is responsible for the application by the persons concerned, to take charge of them or take them back.
 
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
 
The Court affirmed that the Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers in the Member States must be interpreted as meaning that a Member State in receipt of an application for asylum is obliged to grant the minimum conditions for reception of asylum seekers laid down in Directive 2003/9. This principle should be respected also when calling upon another Member State, as responsible for examining his application for asylum, to take charge of or take back that applicant. Furthermore, the Court ruled that a Member State is obliged to grant the minimum reception conditions laid down in Directive 2003/9 to an asylum seeker in respect of whom it decides to call upon another Member State to examine his application for asylum, to take charge of or take back that applicant, until that same applicant is actually transferred by the requesting Member State. Finally, the financial burden of granting those minimum conditions is to be assumed by that requesting Member State, which is subject to that obligation.
 
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

 

36. By its first question, the referring court asks, in essence, whether a Member State to which an application for asylum has been made at its border or in its territory, is also obliged to grant the minimum reception conditions for reception of asylum seekers laid down in Directive 2003/9 to an asylum seeker in respect of whom it decides, under Regulation No 343/2003, to call upon another Member State, as the Member State responsible for examining his application for asylum, to take charge of or take back the person concerned.

39. Regarding the period during which the material reception conditions, that is to say, housing, food and clothing plus a daily expenses allowance, must be granted to the applicants, Article 13(1) of Directive 2003/9 provides that that period is to begin when the asylum seeker applies for asylum.

40. Furthermore, it follows from Articles 2 and 3 of Directive 2003/9 that the directive provides for only one category of asylum seekers, comprising all third‑country nationals or stateless persons who make an application for asylum. No provision can be found in the directive such as to suggest that an application for asylum can be regarded as having been lodged only it if is submitted to the authorities of the Member State responsible for the examination of that application.

41. Such an interpretation is also confirmed by Article 4(1) of Regulation No 343/2003, according to which the process of determining the Member State responsible under this Regulation is to start as soon as an application for asylum is first lodged with a Member State. That provision must therefore mean that an application for asylum is made before the process of determining the Member State responsible begins.

42. The provisions of Directive 2003/9 must also be interpreted in the light of the general scheme and purpose of the directive and, in accordance with recital 5 in the preamble to that directive, while respecting the fundamental rights and observing the principles recognised in particular by the Charter. According to that recital, the directive aims in particular to ensure full respect for human dignity and to promote the application of Articles 1 and 18 of the Charter.

43. Thus, those requirements apply not only with regard to asylum seekers present in the territory of the Member State responsible pending that State’s decision on their application for asylum but also to asylum seekers awaiting a decision on which Member State will be held responsible for their application.

50. Accordingly, the answer to the first question is that Directive 2003/9 must be interpreted as meaning that a Member State in receipt of an application for asylum is obliged to grant the minimum conditions for reception of asylum seekers laid down in Directive 2003/9 even to an asylum seeker in respect of whom it decides, under Regulation No 343/2003, to call upon another Member State, as the Member State responsible for examining his application for asylum, to take charge of or take back that applicant.

51. By its second question, the referring court seeks to ascertain, first, when the obligation on a Member State in receipt of an application for asylum to grant the minimum reception conditions laid down in Directive 2003/9 to an asylum seeker ceases, with regard to an asylum seeker in respect of whom it decides, under Regulation No 343/2003, to call upon another Member State, as the Member State responsible for examining his application for asylum, to take charge of or take back that applicant; second, it wishes to know which Member State should assume the financial burden of providing those minimum conditions.

56. In addition, further to the general scheme and purpose of Directive 2003/9 and the observance of fundamental rights, in particular the requirements of Article 1 of the Charter, under which human dignity must be respected and protected, the asylum seeker may not, as stated in paragraphs 41 to 44 above, be deprived – even for a temporary period of time after the making of the application for asylum and before being actually transferred to the responsible Member State – of the protection of the minimum standards laid down by that directive.

61. Accordingly, the answer to the second question is that the obligation on a Member State in receipt of an application for asylum to grant the minimum reception conditions laid down in Directive 2003/9 to an asylum seeker in respect of whom it decides, under Regulation No 343/2003, to call upon another Member State, as the Member State responsible for examining his application for asylum, to take charge of or take back that applicant, ceases when that same applicant is actually transferred by the requesting Member State, and the financial burden of granting those minimum conditions is to be assumed by that requesting Member State, which is subject to that obligation.