EU’s top court says mother of Dutch child must be allowed in

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg Photo: Molly Quell

The Dutch government is blocking a Dutch teenager living in Thailand with his mother from enjoying his rights as an EU citizen by denying his mother a residency permit in the Netherlands, the EU’s highest court ruled on Thursday.

The European Court of Justice found that by barring the mother, who holds Thai nationality, from entering the Netherlands, the Dutch authorities were de facto preventing the boy from making use of his Dutch nationality.

The mother, referred to as X in the court ruling, was deported from the Netherlands in 2019 after she split with the boy’s father, who is a Dutch citizen.

The child, now approximately 14, was born in Thailand and raised by his grandmother, as his mother returned to the Netherlands after he was born. He has never traveled to the country and does not speak Dutch.

His mother was granted sole custody in 2020 and, according to court documents, the father has no relationship with the boy.

Regardless of his connection to the Netherlands, the Luxembourg-based court held that by virtue of his nationality, he is entitled to rights as an EU citizen and he cannot exercise those rights if his guardian cannot enter the Netherlands.

“The consequences suffered by the child … because in practice he cannot enter and reside in the Union must be regarded as comparable to the consequences if the child is obliged to leave the territory of the Union,” the five-judge panel wrote.

In a landmark 2017 ruling, in a case also brought against the Netherlands, the court ruled that parents or caretakers for EU citizens are entitled to some rights under EU law.

The woman is not guaranteed to get a residency permit, however. The ECJ says it is up to the court in The Hague to decide if she meets the criteria as a guardian.

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