The right to family reunification in relation to third-country nationals within the European Union

AuthorMihaela Mazilu-Babel
PositionJurist, LL.M in European Union Law, University of Luxembourg, Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives
The Right to Family Reunification
in Relation to Third Country Nationals within the European Union
Mihaela Mazilu-Babel
Abstract: The paper aims to establish the character of the right to family reunification and to bring together all
the situations in which a Member Sta te of the European Union is “forced” to asses the application for the family
reunification with a third-country national, in accordance wi th the EU law, both primary and secondary, incident
in the case at hand. The family reunification, as the most important form of migration in the European Union,
was subject to previous research, research t hat was conducted only at a sectored level. Therefore, the “puzzle
pieces” must be put together and a “whole pict ure” conclusion is necessary. It will be submitted that family
reunification right, although derives from a fundamental human right – the right for respect of f amily life, its
effects depend majorly on the specific factual and legal sit uation of the ‘beneficiary’ of such a fundamental
1. Introduction
Family reunification is the most important form of migration as family migration makes up 40-60% of
all migrants and because of these numbers, family reunification is a major political issue (Lawson,
2007). It has also become a major legal one when the Council of Ministers (from now on referred as
‘the Council’) adopted Directive 2003/86/EC (‘the Family Reunification Directive’) that partially
harmonized this policy field, offering to third country nationals Community residing rights in their
own capacity for the first time in history. In addition, as it concerns the rights for family reunification
of third country nationals which are also family members of an EU citizen, their situation was covered
by the specific provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC (‘the Citizens’ Directive’). Therefore, already two
instruments were put in place to takle the issue of family reunification in cases involving third-country
In fact, due to the fact that immigration goes to the heart of sovereignty, the rules that govern such a
sensible field are split not in two but in three major categories given by the status of the person
applying for family reunification with a third-country national (i.e. the sponsor of the third-country
national). There are situations when the sponsor is a EU citizen, a national of a country that has
concluded an Association or Sectoral Agreement with the European Union – the so-called privileged
third-country national (i.e. Turkish or Swiss national) or a legaly residing third-country national (i.e.
As the purpose of this paper is two faced: on one side, to analyse and underline the right to family
reunification of a third-country national sponsor and on the other side, to compare it with t he right to
family reunification of an EU sponsor, the first stop is the analysis in substance of such a reunification
Jurist, LL.M in European Union Law, University of Luxembourg, Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, Luxe mbourg,
Luxembourg. (+352) 46 66 44 60, Corresponding author:

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