The Dutch government was wrong in considering non-EU citizens with residence rights in the Netherlands as family members of Dutch nationals ineligible for EU long-term residence, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on Wednesday.
The case concerned a Ghanaian woman with residence rights in the Netherlands from the relationship with her son, a Dutch citizen. In 2019, after more than five consecutive years of legal residence, as required by the law, she had applied for a long-term EU residence permit.
This permit grants non-EU citizens who have lived in the EU for several years equal rights to EU nationals on issues such as employment and self-employment, education, social benefits and taxation. EU long-term residence also opens the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions.
However, the junior justice minister rejected the application, taking the view that the residence right derived from a family member is ‘temporary in nature’.
The applicant then brought a case before the District Court, The Hague, sitting in Amsterdam, which asked the EU Court of Justice for an interpretation of EU rules.
The EU directive on the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents excludes specifically those who reside in the EU temporarily, such as posted workers, seasonal workers or au pairs.
But the EU Court clarified on Wednesday that third country nationals with residence rights as family members of EU citizens are not part of this group so are eligible for EU long-term residence.
EU judges argued that the relation of dependency, in this case of a care taking parent with a young EU citizen, ‘is not, in principle, intended to be of short duration.’ Also, to obtain EU long-term residence, applicants have to meet other criteria, such as continuity of residence, having sufficient economic resources and sickness insurance.
The court added that the purpose of the EU long-term residence directive is to promote the integration of non-EU citizens who are settled in the European Union. The local court will now have to follow the EU Court’s decision, which applies also to other EU countries.
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