Article 47 - Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Common policy on asylum and subsidiary protection — Common procedures for granting international protection — Directive 2013/32/EU — Article 46(3) — Full and ex nunc examination — Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Right to an effective remedy — Powers and obligations of the first-instance court or tribunal — No power to vary the decisions of the authorities competent in the area of international protection — National legislation providing for an obligation to adjudicate within a time limit of 60 days.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (First Chamber) hereby rules:
1) The request for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Article 46(3) of Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (OJ 2013 L 180, p. 60), read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’).
3) Recitals 18, 50 and 60 of Directive 2013/32 are worded as follows:
‘(18) It is in the interests of both Member States and applicants for international protection that a decision is made as soon as possible on applications for international protection, without prejudice to an adequate and complete examination being carried out.
(50) It reflects a basic principle of Union law that the decisions taken on an application for international protection … are subject to an effective remedy before a court or tribunal.
60) This Directive respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised by the Charter. In particular, this Directive seeks to ensure full respect for human dignity and to promote the application of Articles 1, 4, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24, and 47 of the Charter and has to be implemented accordingly.’
12) Furthermore, the referring court has the issue of the maximum period of 60 days for trial laid down by Hungarian law. It takes the view that, in certain cases, of which the case in the main proceedings appears to be representative, such a period is not sufficient to gather the necessary information, determine the factual context, hear the interested party and, therefore, give a properly reasoned judicial decision. It therefore questions whether that time limit is compatible with the right to an effective remedy provided for in Directive 2013/32 and in Article 47 of the Charter.
13) In those circumstances, the Fővárosi Közigazgatási és Munkaügyi Bíróság (Administrative and Labour Court, Budapest, Hungary) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling: ‘
(1) Can Article 47 of the [Charter] and Article 31 of Directive 2013/32 … be interpreted, in the light of Articles 6 and 13 of the [Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950], as meaning that it is possible for effective judicial protection to be guaranteed in a Member State even if its courts cannot amend decisions given in asylum procedures but may only annul them and order that a new procedure be conducted?
(2) Can Article 47 of the [Charter] and Article 31 of Directive 2013/32 … be interpreted, again in the light of Articles 6 and 13 of the [Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms], as meaning that legislation of a Member State which lays down a single mandatory time limit of 60 days in total for judicial proceedings in asylum matters, irrespective of any individual circumstances and without regard to the particular features of the case or any potential difficulties in relation to evidence, is compatible with those provisions?’
16) By its first question, the referring court asks, in essence, whether Article 46(3) of Directive 2013/32, read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which confers solely on courts or tribunals the power to annul decisions of the competent authorities in matters of international protection, to the exclusion of the power to amend those decisions.
19) In paragraphs 147 and 148 of that judgment, the Court stated that, however, Article 46(3) of Directive 2013/32 would be deprived of any practical effect if it were accepted that, after delivery of a judgment by which the court or tribunal of first instance conducted, in accordance with that provision, a full and ex nunc assessment of the international protection needs of the applicant by virtue of Directive 2011/95, that body could take a decision that ran counter to that assessment or could allow a considerable period of time to elapse, which could increase the risk that evidence requiring a new up-to-date assessment might arise. Consequently, even though the purpose of Directive 2013/32 is not to establish a common standard in respect of the power to adopt a new decision on an application for international protection after the annulment of the initial decision, it nevertheless follows from its purpose of ensuring the fastest possible processing of applications of that nature, from the obligation to ensure that Article 46(3) is effective, and from the need, arising from Article 47 of the Charter, to ensure an effective remedy, that each Member State bound by that directive must order its national law in such a way that, following annulment of the initial decision and in the event of the file being referred back to the quasi-judicial or administrative body referred to in Article 2(f) of that directive, a new decision is adopted within a short period of time and complies with the assessment contained in the judgment annulling the initial decision.
20) Thus, where a court annuls a decision of an administrative authority following an exhaustive and updated examination of the international protection needs of an applicant in the light of all the relevant elements of law and of fact and finds that that applicant must be granted international protection and then refers the case back to the administrative authority for a new decision to be taken, that administrative authority is required to grant the international protection requested, subject to the emergence of elements of fact or of law that objectively require a new up-to-date assessment, in the absence of which Article 46(3) of Directive 2013/32, read in conjunction with Article 47 of the Charter, and Articles 13 and 18 of Directive 2011/95 would be deprived of all their practical effect(see, to that effect, judgment of 29 July 2019, Torubarov, C‑556/17, EU:C:2019:626, paragraph 66).
23) Consequently, the answer to the first question is that Article 46(3) of Directive 2013/32, read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter, must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which confers solely on courts or tribunals the power to annul decisions of the competent authorities in matters of international protection, to the exclusion of the power to amend those decisions. However, if the file is referred back to the competent administrative authority, a new decision should be adopted within a short period of time and in compliance with the assessment contained in the judgment annulling the decision. Moreover, where a national court has found — after making a full and ex nunc examination of all the relevant elements of fact and law submitted by an applicant for international protection — that, under the criteria laid down by Directive 2011/95, the applicant concerned must be granted such protection on the ground that he or she relied on in support of his or her application, but after which the administrative authority adopts a contrary decision without establishing that new elements have arisen that justify a new assessment of the international protection needs of the applicant, that court must, where national law does not provide it with any means of ensuring that its judgment is complied with, amend that decision which does not comply with its previous judgment and substitute its own decision for it as to the application for international protection, by disapplying, if necessary, the national law that prohibits it from proceeding in that way.
24) By its second question, the referring court asks, in essence, whether Article 46(3) of Directive 2013/32, read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which/that sets a period of 60 days within which a court hearing an appeal against a decision rejecting an application for international protection must adjudicate.
37) Consequently, the answer to the second question is that Article 46(3) of Directive 2013/32, read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter, must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which sets a period of 60 days for the court hearing an action against a decision rejecting an application for international protection to give a ruling, provided that that court is able to ensure, within that period, that the substantive and procedural rules which EU law affords to the applicant are effective. If that is not the case, that court must disapply the national legislation laying down the period for adjudication and, once that period has elapsed, deliver its judgment as promptly as possible.
38) Since these proceedings are, for the parties to the main proceedings, a step in the action pending before the national court, the decision on costs is a matter for that court. Costs incurred in submitting observations to the Court, other than the costs of those parties, are not recoverable.
On those grounds, the Court (First Chamber) hereby rules: