European Commission asks: Do immigration laws reflect today’s couples?

Written by Thomas Huddleston, MIPEX Research Coordinator, Co-author and Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Group

Most EU Member States do not let non-EU couples reunite if they do not–or cannot–marry. Can Member States work together to change these rules?

On 15 November, the European Commission published a Green Paper asking policymakers and stakeholders whether it should renegotiate or better implement the EU Family Reunion Directive 2003/86/EC.

MPG prepared a series of policy briefings to help you respond to this consultation by its deadline — 1 March 2012.

For example, the Commission asks: Are the rules on eligible family members adequate and broad enough to take into account the  different definitions of family existing other than that of the nuclear family?

The Member States may, by law or regulation, authorise the entry and residence [of]: … a third country national, with whom the sponsor is in a duly attested stable long-term relationship, or of a third country national who is bound to the sponsor by a registered partnership (Directive 2003/86/EC, Chapter II, Art. 3,emphasis added)

Long-term and registered relationships largely ignored for non-EU family reunion

Most EU countries adopt slightly inclusive definitions of the family and only basic conditions for acquisition, out of respect for family life. However, non-EU family reunion legislation in 14 of the 24 EU Member States concerned do not recognise a non-EU partner who is not a spouse.

Both long-term relationships and registered partnerships are recognised in only 6 Member States, just like Australia and Canada: Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

4 more Member States recognise one or the other type of relationship: Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, and Luxembourg.

The map below shows the countries in 2010 that recognised both (pink), one or the other (blue), or neither (black):

For more on this issue, check out the information from ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association.