COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark was wrong not to allow a Turkish woman to be reunited with her husband and children in the country, the EU’s top court ruled on Wednesday.
The case, which could set a precedent for similar cases, poses a considerable challenge for Denmark’s new Social Democratic government, which campaigned to curb the flow of migrants.
Danish legislation has so far made it possible to deny family reunification to immigrants if authorities find their connection to another country stronger than to Denmark.
However, that legislation was ruled to violate an agreement between the EU and Turkey, saying that member states can not limit Turkish nationals’ access to work and family when staying in an EU-country.
“Such a limitation is unfounded,” the European Court of Justice ruling said.
The Turkish couple were married in Turkey, where they raised four children. After divorcing in 1998, the husband moved to Denmark with the children. After remarrying in 2009, they applied for family reunification for the wife, which was denied by the Danish Immigration Service.
The couple appealed against the government at the Danish high court, which requested the case be considered by the EU court.
Lawyer Thomas Ryhl, who represents the couple, told Reuters he estimated around 8,000 Turkish couples had been denied family reunification in Denmark between 2003 and 2018.
He said he expected the Danish authorities to acknowledge the case needed to be reexamined.
The Danish Immigration Ministry has called the case a “high priority” because it could mean immigrants living in Denmark, who have previously been denied family reunification, would have their cases reopened.
“I am frustrated about the ruling against us. Now the ministry needs time to read the verdict closely, before I can say anything about the consequences”, Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said in a statement.
“Of course the government respects rulings from the EU court.”
(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Andreas Mortensen; Editing by Alison Williams)