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*Law of Aliens

Published on July 7th, 2018 | by Georgia Archonti

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CJEU Judgment: Case C-181/16 Gnandi, 19 June 2018

On 19 June 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in case C-181/16 Gnandi, which concerns a request for a preliminary ruling by the Belgian Council of State regarding the adoption of a return decision within the meaning of the Returns Directive before the legal remedies against a rejection of an asylum decision have been exhausted and the asylum procedure has been concluded.

First, the Court ruled that an asylum applicant falls within the scope of the Returns Directive as soon as his application is rejected by the responsible authority, unless the Member State concerned decides to grant him or her an autonomous residence permit or authorisation on humanitarian or other grounds as per Article 6(4) of the Returns Directive. The Court recalled that the main objective of this Directive is the establishment of an effective removal policy. This objective finds expression in Article 6(6) of the Directive, which explicitly allows Member States to adopt a decision on the ending of a legal stay together with a return decision, in a single administrative act.

However, the CJEU reiterated that implementation of the Returns Directive must respect fundamental rights and legal principles, in particular those enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. With regard to a return decision and a possible removal, the right to an effective remedy and the principle of non-refoulement requires Member States to grant an asylum applicant the right to challenge the execution of a return decision at least before one judicial body, and this appeal shall have automatic suspensive effect.

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