CJEU: Interpretation of the expulsion of third-country nationals who are long-term residents

Thursday, June 11, 2020

On 11 June 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union published its judgment in Case C-448/19 referred by Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Castilla-La Mancha (High Court of Justice of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain).

The case concerns a Moroccan national who holds a long-term residence permit in Spain. When attempting to complete the residency status formalities, he was found to have been sentenced to at least three terms of imprisonment of more than one year. Administrative expulsion proceedings were subsequently initiated against the applicant. He argued, inter alia, that he had fully integrated into society after living in Spain for 10 years, had established family and occupational connections, and that his previous criminal convictions could not justify his expulsion. On appeal of this order, the referring court noted that it was bound by the case law of the Supreme Court, which previously held that foreign nationals who are long-term residents must automatically be expelled for intentional criminal offences punishable by custodial sentences of more than one year. The referring court, of the view that this finding was incompatible with provisions of Directive 2003/109, stayed proceedings and referred its question to the CJEU.

The CJEU observed that while its role is not to rule on the compatibility of provisions of national and EU law, it does have jurisdiction to provide national courts guidance on the interpretation of EU law in order to enable it to determine the issue of compatibility for the purpose of the case before it. It added that it has previously ruled on the interpretation of Article 12 Directive 2003/109, concluding, inter alia, that it must be interpreted as precluding national law which does not provide for requirements of protection against the expulsion of third country nationals with long-term residence status for all administrative expulsion decisions, and that Directive 2001/40 cannot justify a different interpretation of this.

As a result, the Court concluded that Article 12 Directive 2003/109 precludes national legislation which provides for the automatic administrative expulsion of a third country national with long-term residency who has criminal convictions with a sentence greater than one year without an examination of whether they pose a genuine and sufficiently serious threat to public order and security. Moreover, this examination must take into account, inter alia, the duration of the individual’s residency, their age, the consequences of their expulsion, the existence of family ties in the returning country and the absence of links in their country of origin.

Photo: CJEU – Transparency International, March 2013, Flickr (CC)

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Residence document