Friday, February 17, 2012

EU Treaty Rights & Article 8 : new UK decision on the application of Zambrano principles

The UK Immigration and Asylum Chamber last week determined Sanade and Others (British children - Zambrano  Dereci ) [2012] UKUT 00048 (IAC)  giving consideration to a number of highly relevant and fluid areas including the rights of British citizen children in light of the recent UK decision of  ZH (Tanzania) v SSHD [2011] UKSC 4 and the reliance on EU citizenship rights following the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Zambrano   and Dereci.  Of particular interest is the application of the so-called Zambrano principle as clarified in the more recent decision in Dereci where the parties involved have not exercised their Treaty rights. See our previous posting on the decision in Dereci.
The decision arose out of three linked cases that shared similar facts. Each appellant is married to a British woman and each have minor British citizen children who were either born in the UK or have lived there since an early age. Each appellant had been convicted of a criminal offence such that the Secretary of State sought to deport them. Notably, the citizen spouses and children had never exercised Treaty rights to move and reside in another Member State. They are British and have remained there throughout.
The appellants each put forward the argument, among others, that their removal would impair the rights of their citizen spouses and children to genuine enjoyment of the substance of their rights as EU citizens, relying on Article 20 TFEU. That is, that their family life would be infringed on by removal of the non-nationals spouse/father, and this would amount to a deprivation of proper enjoyment of the substance of EU citizenship rights of the remaining family members.
The Tribunal recognised that citizenship of the Union is intended to be the fundamental status of nationals of the Member States, as reiterated in Zambrano. However, citing Dereci, the decision concludes that removal of the father in these cases, while it would have an adverse economic impact on all the families and would impact on the interests of each child living in a household with their father, it would not actually require the spouses or children to leave the UK. In short, economic reasons for maintaining family unity are not sufficient and the effectiveness of Union citizenship does not risk being undermined.
The Tribunal stated that the focus instead should be on the application of Article 8 stating at paragraph 90: “in our judgment, if on the facts removal of the appellant will not require the children or spouse to follow because they have no capacity for exercising their Treaty rights independent of the person facing removal, what is being impaired is not the right to reside in the EU but the right to enjoy family life whilst so residing.” 
The cases therefore fell to be determined on an assessment of Article 8, the protection afforded to family and private life by the European Convention on Human Rights. The Tribunal applied a balancing and proportionality assessment to the facts of each of the three cases, taking into account in particular, the best interests of the child. Following ZH (Tanzania), the Tribunal emphasise that the fact of the British citizenship of the children is held to be of particular relevance when balancing the interests of the State against those of the family, especially where the children have spent a considerable portion of their childhood in the UK and risk losing the advantages of growing up and being educated in their country of nationality, their own culture and their own language.
This decision is helpful for its summary of the principles in the highly significant cases of ZH (Tanzania), Zambrano, and Dereci. It is also instructive in showing the potentially limiting effect of the decision in Dereci. In cases where there is no exercise of EU Treaty Rights, it may be difficult to rely on EU citizenship rights and applicants may be better advised to focus on their family and private life protections under Article 8 of the ECHR.
Brophy Solicitors



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