01 Mar 2017

AG Mengozzi’s conclusion in X and X v. Belgium on the positive obligation to issue humanitarian visas: A legitimate plea to ensure safe journeys for refugees

Evelien Brouwer

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On February 7th, Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi of the CJEU published an opinion in the case X and X v Belgium, concluding that EU member states are obliged to issue humanitarian visas to Syrian families based on the Visa Code and their obligations under Article 4 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights (CFR) to protect individuals against inhuman and degrading treatment or torture. This decision has been welcomed by many who criticise the current EU governments for their lack of an effective and humanitarian response to the current refugee crisis. In the wake of this important development, this contribution focuses on three main subjects: i) the extraterritorial application of the CFR, ii) the responsibility of member states under Article 4 of the CFR and iii) the question of when or in which circumstances does the discretionary power in Article 25 of Visa Code become a positive obligation.

Evelien Brouwer is Senior Researcher and Lecturer in migration law at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.