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CJEU - Joined cases C 411/10 and C 493/10 / Judgment

N.S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department M.E. et al. v Refugee applications Commissioner et al.

Policy area:
Asylum and migration
Deciding Body type:
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding Body:
Court (Grand Chamber)
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
21/12/2011
Key facts of the case:
 

References for a preliminary ruling from the Court of Appeal (England and Wales) (Civil Division) and from the High Court (Ireland)

European Union law – Principles – Fundamental rights – Implementation of European Union law – Prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment – Common European Asylum System – Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 – Concept of ‘safe countries’ – Transfer of an asylum seeker to the Member State responsible – Obligation – Rebuttable presumption of compliance, by that Member State, with fundamental rights.

Outcome of the case:

On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:

  1. The decision adopted by a Member State on the basis of Article 3(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national, whether to examine an asylum application which is not its responsibility according to the criteria laid down in Chapter III of that Regulation, implements European Union law for the purposes of Article 6 TEU and/or Article 51 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
  2. European Union law precludes the application of a conclusive presumption that the Member State which Article 3(1) of Regulation No 343/2003 indicates as responsible observes the fundamental rights of the European Union. Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be interpreted as meaning that the Member States, including the national courts, may not transfer an asylum seeker to the ‘Member State responsible’ within the meaning of Regulation No 343/2003 where they cannot be unaware that systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure and in the reception conditions of asylum seekers in that Member State amount to substantial grounds for believing that the asylum seeker would face a real risk of being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of that provision. Subject to the right itself to examine the application referred to in Article 3(2) of Regulation No 343/2003, the finding that it is impossible to transfer an applicant to another Member State, where that State is identified as the Member State responsible in accordance with the criteria set out in Chapter III of that regulation, entails that the Member State which should carry out that transfer must continue to examine the criteria set out in that chapter in order to establish whether one of the following criteria enables another Member State to be identified as responsible for the examination of the asylum application. The Member State in which the asylum seeker is present must ensure that it does not worsen a situation where the fundamental rights of that applicant have been infringed by using a procedure for determining the Member State responsible which takes an unreasonable length of time. If necessary, the first mentioned Member State must itself examine the application in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 3(2) of Regulation No 343/2003.
  3. Articles 1, 18 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union do not lead to a different answer.
  4. In so far as the preceding questions arise in respect of the obligations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the answers to the second to sixth questions referred in Case C-411/10 do not require to be qualified in any respect so as to take account of Protocol (No 30) on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to Poland and the United Kingdom.