Thursday, April 21, 2011

What does it mean to be an EU citizen?


The Zambrano ruling, in simple terms, provides that EU Citizens do not need to move to generate rights of residence and work permits for their parents.  It is of course understood that Member States reserve the right to decide who is a citizen of that particular state by way of either 'jus soli' or 'jus sanguinis.'  This is not the issue.  With the 2004 referendum, the Irish people voted and the outcome provides that citizenship of a person born on the island of Ireland on or after 1 January, 2005 depends on the citizenship of the person's parents at the time of the person's birth or the residency history of one of the parents prior to the birth.

The Zambrano ruling has been the fuel of much academic debate on the concept of what it means to be a citizen of the Union. Who can avail of such rights and entitlements to family reunification, rights of residency and rights to work?  The current requirement of free movement is apparently redundant and it is clear that the model of Union citizenship is slowly but surely casting its shadow over the Member States, asserting its presence and filtering through traditional national policies and norms that were once free from EU interception.    

Ireland has traditionally had a pivotal role in previous ECJ decisions concerning Free Movement and Citizenship of the Union including cases such as 'Metock', 'Akrich' and 'Zhu and Chen.'  It is not surprising that our friends in Europe are keeping a watchful eye on Ireland and how our government and courts will choose to implement the ruling and it's significant ramifications for national immigration law. Ireland made its position clear in making representations in response to Advocate General Sharpston's opinion prior to the decision on Zambrano relying on the 'flood gates' theory.  We are reminded of the State's response in the earlier 'Chen' case, which saw the people turning to the ballot boxes for a referendum in 2004. 

While Minister Alan Shatter has committed to urgently reviewing all existing cases in the State in which Zambrano applies, his public statement on the ruling is also a plain recognition of the wider notion of EU measures and their implementation into the Member States,  something that troubles all Member States:      

'The Zambrano judgment applies EU law to certain situations which had
previously been considered to be internal to a Member State and to be
regulated by national law, not EU law. Indeed, all the Member State
Governments which submitted observations to the European Court of Justice
in the Zambrano case, and the European Commission, submitted that the
provisions of European Union law referred to by the Belgian court in its
reference to the European Court of Justice were not applicable to the
dispute in the main proceedings. However, the Court of Justice ruled

We anticipate further referrals to the European Court of Justice along with new legislation and policies both to emanate from the EU and Ireland to deal with the array of cases and issues that will arise as a result of Zambrano.  And as the State takes legal advice on dealing with 'Zambrano' type cases at home, the Zambrano ruling is to be appreciated as a landmark recognition of and a strengthening of the citizenship of the Union model which will have consequences and implications on future rulings on our rights and entitlements as citizens of the Union.

Sarah McCoy, Brophy Solicitors

No comments:

Post a Comment