Does the EU Family Reunion Directive reflect how you would define a family? MPG’s analysis of MIPEX and Eurostat statistics reveals that immigrant’s parents, grandparents, and adult children are somehow entitled to reunite in most countries, but few can or do apply.
The Member States may, by law or regulation, authorise the entry and residence [of]: … first-degree relatives in the direct ascending line of the sponsor or his or her spouse, where they are dependent on them and do not enjoy proper family support in the country of origin; the adult unmarried children of the sponsor or his or her spouse, where they are objectively unable to provide for their own needs on account of their health. (Directive 2003/86/EC, Chapter II, Art. 4, 2a, b, emphasis added)
MIPEX finds dependent adults somehow entitled in most countries
The average EU country goes beyond the minimum definition of the family in the Directive. Most adopt slightly inclusive definitions of the family and only basic conditions for acquisition, out of respect for family life. In contrast, countries like Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, and France restrict the eligibility of family members and impose burdensome conditions on sponsors.
Dependent adult family members are someway entitled to join their non-EU sponsor in 18 of the 24 Member States where the Directive applies. Both parents/grandparents and adult children are entitled in 6 EU countries, similar to traditional immigration countries like Canada and Australia. Their entitlements are more limited in 9 more countries. No clear entitlement exists for third country nationals’ parents in Belgium, adult children in Latvia and Luxembourg, or for either group of family members in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, and Malta.
Reunions with other family members are most common in Europe’s new countries of immigration like the Czech Republic, Italy, and Portugal. Interestingly they are also rather common in new destinations with restrictive family reunion policies, such as Ireland, Latvia, and Malta. There, the few families that are able to reunite often include other family members.