Key facts of the case
(Request for a preliminary ruling
from the Administrativen sad Sofia‑grad (Administrative Court, Sofia, Bulgaria))
(References for a preliminary ruling — Area of freedom, security and justice — Borders, asylum and immigration — Rules on the grant of refugee status — Directives 2005/85/EC and 2011/95/EU — Applications for international protection made by family members of a person who has applied for refugee status — National provision granting refugee status to family members of a recognised refugee — Directive 2013/32/EU — Right to an effective remedy)
Outcome of the case
In the light of all the foregoing considerations, I suggest that the Court should declare inadmissible the second, third, eighth and ninth questions referred for a preliminary ruling and should answer the remaining questions, once reformulated, as follows:
Article 25 of Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status, read in the light of recital 22 thereof, is to be interpreted as not imposing any obligation on Member States to examine the admissibility of an asylum application by reference to the grounds mentioned in Article 25(2), or to reject such an application where one or other of those grounds applies.
Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted, in particular Articles 2(d) and 4(3) thereof, read in the light of recital 36 thereof, is to be interpreted as not precluding the grant of refugee status to an applicant for international protection on account of his or her family connection with a person who has been the victim of acts of persecution, within the meaning of Article 9(1) of that directive, or who rightly fears persecution for one of the reasons referred to in Article 2(d) of the directive where, on an examination of his or her individual situation and personal circumstances and in light of all the relevant facts, it is clear that, because of that family link, the applicant individually entertains a well-founded fear of being persecuted himself or herself.
Directive 2005/85, and in particular Article 6(2) and (3) and Article 9(3) thereof, are to be interpreted as precluding applications for international protection made, in their own behalf, by family members of a person who has applied for refugee status from being treated as an integral part of the application lodged by such a person and dealt with jointly in a single procedure, even where they are based exclusively on the grounds for the grant of refugee status which relate to that person. Directives 2005/85 and 2011/95 are to be interpreted as not precluding the staying of the procedures on the applications for international protection made separately by various members of a family group on the basis of a fear of being persecuted on account of the situation of one of the members of that family group pending the outcome of the procedure on the asylum application of the family member whose situation gave rise to the family group’s fear of persecution. However, any such stay must not undermine the autonomy of the applications lodged, in their own behalf, by the family members of the applicant whose situation gave rise to their fear of persecution, nor impede their examination on the merits once the procedure examining the application made by the main applicant has been completed, regardless of the outcome of that procedure.
A national provision, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, under which the family members of a person who has been granted refugee status in accordance with Article 1A of the Geneva Convention are recognised as refugees whether or not they individually meet the criteria laid down in Article 1A of the Geneva Convention, where such recognition is compatible with their personal legal status and no grounds of exclusion, under Article 12 of Directive 2011/95, militate against it, is compatible with the provisions of Directive 2011/95, for the purposes of applying the qualification laid down in Article 3 thereof. A national provision of such kind will fall within the scope of Article 3 of Directive 2011/95 only if the members of the refugee’s family are allowed to request and obtain the grant of refugee status as an autonomous right, provided that they individually fulfil the conditions for the grant of such status.
The fact that an asylum applicant has brought an action against his or her own State of origin before the European Court of Human Rights does not automatically establish that he or she is a member of a particular social group, within the meaning of Article 10(1)(d) of Directive 2011/95, or his or her adherence to a political opinion, within the meaning of Article 10(1)(e) of that directive.