[JURIST] The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled [case materials; press release] on Friday that the right of EU citizens to live in any EU member state also extends to non-citizen spouses and relatives. Four Irish couples brought the case, appealing deportation orders issued by the Irish Ministry of Justice, Equality and Law Reform [official website] because one member of each couple was not a legal citizen of any EU country. The court found that Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament [PDF text] guarantees that foreign nationals married to EU citizens can live in their spouses' home countries:
It must also be pointed out that Articles 5, 6(2) and 7(2) of Directive 2004/38 confer the rights of entry, of residence for up to three months, and of residence for more than three months in the host Member State on nationals of non-member countries who are family members of a Union citizen whom they accompany or join in that Member State, without any reference to the place or conditions of residence they had before arriving in that Member State.EUobserver has more.
In 2006, the ECJ dismissed an action [materials; JURIST report] filed by the European Parliament challenging an EU Council Directive [2003/86/EC text] that allows member states to apply national legislation to family reunification. The opinion held that allowing member states to use a limited amount of discretion in determining requirements for family reunification is a proper balancing test that does not violate the right to respect for family life of the European Convention of Human Rights [text]. The ruling was seen as a victory for EU member nations who wanted more control over immigration, an increasingly controversial subject in France, the Netherlands, and other states. The ruling permits countries to consider their capacity to accept more immigrants as one factor in whether a family should be allowed to reunite with a child already present in the country.