Article 7 - Respect for private and family life
Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Citizenship of the European Union — Right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States — Directive 2004/38/EC — Second subparagraph of Article 27(2) — Restrictions on the right of entry and the right of residence on grounds of public policy, public security or public health — Expulsion on grounds of public policy or public security — Conduct representing a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society — Person whose asylum application has been refused for reasons within the scope of Article 1F of the Geneva Convention or Article 12(2) of Directive 2011/95/EU — Article 28(1) — Article 28(3)(a) — Protection against expulsion — Residence in the host Member State for the previous ten years — Imperative grounds of public security — Meaning.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
1. Article 27(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, amending Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 and repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 73/148/EEC, 75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC, must be interpreted as meaning that the fact that a European Union citizen or a third-country national family member of such a citizen, who applies for a right of residence in the territory of a Member State, has been the subject, in the past, of a decision excluding him from refugee status under Article 1F of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, signed in Geneva on 28 July 1951 and supplemented by the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, concluded in New York on 31 January 1967, or Article 12(2) of 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, does not enable the competent authorities of that Member State to consider automatically that the mere presence of that individual in its territory constitutes, whether or not there is any risk of re-offending, a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society, capable of justifying the adoption of measures on grounds of public policy or public security.
The finding that there is such a threat must be based on an assessment, by the competent authorities of the host Member State, of the personal conduct of the individual concerned, taking into consideration the findings of fact in the decision to exclude that individual from refugee status and the factors on which that decision is based, particularly the nature and gravity of the crimes or acts that he is alleged to have committed, the degree of his individual involvement in them, whether there are any grounds for excluding criminal liability, and whether or not he has been convicted. That overall assessment must also take account of the time that has elapsed since the date when the crimes or acts were allegedly committed and the subsequent conduct of that individual, particularly in relation to whether that conduct reveals the persistence in him of a disposition hostile to the fundamental values enshrined in Articles 2 and 3 TEU, capable of disturbing the peace of mind and physical security of the population. The mere fact that the past conduct of that individual took place in a specific historical and social context in his country of origin, which is not liable to recur in the host Member State, does not preclude such a finding.
In accordance with the principle of proportionality, the competent authorities of the host Member State must, in addition, weigh the protection of the fundamental interest of society at issue, on the one hand, against the interests of the person concerned in the exercise of his right to freedom of movement and residence as a Union citizen and in his right to respect for private and family life.
2. Article 28(1) of Directive 2004/38 must be interpreted as meaning that, where the measures envisaged entail the expulsion of the individual concerned from the host Member State, that State must take account of, inter alia, the nature and gravity of the alleged conduct of the individual concerned, the duration and, when appropriate, the legality of his residence in that Member State, the period of time that has elapsed since that conduct, the individual’s behaviour during that period, the extent to which he currently poses a danger to society, and the solidity of social, cultural and family links with that Member State.
Article 28(3)(a) of Directive 2004/38 must be interpreted as meaning that it is not applicable to a European Union citizen who does not have a right of permanent residence in the host Member State, within the meaning of Article 16 and Article 28(2) of that directive.
35) The referring court adds that that issue is also related to the right to respect for private and family life, enshrined in Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’) and in Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950. The referring court considers that when a decision to refuse residence is to be taken it would appear to be preferable that an assessment using the ‘fair balance test’ be undertaken.
36) Accordingly, the Raad voor Vreemdelingenbetwistingen (Council for asylum and immigration proceedings, Belgium) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following question to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:
‘Should EU law, in particular Article 27(2) of Directive [2004/38], whether or not in conjunction with Article 7 of the Charter, be interpreted as meaning that a residence application, lodged by a third-country family member of a Union citizen in the context of family reunification with that citizen, who has exercised his right of free movement and residence, can be refused in a Member State because of a threat resulting from the mere presence in society of that family member, who in another Member State was excluded from refugee status pursuant to Article 1F of [the Geneva Convention] and Article 12(2) of Directive [2011/95] because of his involvement in events which took place in a specific socio-historical context in his country of origin, where the genuineness and the reality of the threat posed by the conduct of that family member in the Member State of residence is based solely on a reference to the exclusion decision, without any assessment of the risk of re-offending in the Member State of residence?’
63) In that assessment, account must be taken of the fundamental rights whose observance the Court ensures, in particular the right to respect for private and family life as enshrined in Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (judgment of 23 November 2010, Tsakouridis, C‑145/09, EU:C:2010:708, paragraph 52 and the case-law cited)....