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BORDER THREAT: EU judges could spark migrant rush to Europe with ruling on asylum visas

EURO judges are set to deliver a landmark ruling on asylum visas which could leave Europe’s borders defenceless and spark a migrant surge to our shores.

Officials at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will decide whether or not refugees can apply to move to EU member states from outside the continent in a case which has the potential to rip up the asylum rulebook.Belgium has made a last ditch plea to Europe’s highest court in a bid to prevent ministers from being forced to hand humanitarian visas to a Syrian family who are currently in Lebanon.

The impending ruling, by judges in Strasbourg, will be binding on EU member states and could have a seismic impact on Brussels’ partially successful attempts to put a lid on the migrant crisis.

Theresa May, left, and refugees at a camp in the Middle East, rightAFP/GETTY

EU judges will rule on whether refugees can apply for asylum in the EU from abroad


It would mean that migrants in countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey would be able to apply to visit the EU on humanitarian grounds even if they have no links to this country.Once on European soil they would be able to lodge a claim for permanent asylum, sparking a protracted legal process which can culminate in a series of costly court hearings and appeals funded by the taxpayer.

Britain has a complex web of opt-outs from EU regulation concerning border controls, but it is not clear whether or not they will apply in this case. Express.co.uk has contacted the Home Office for clarification on the issue.

Angela MerkelREUTERS

A ruling in favour of the Syrian family would be a huge blow to Angela Merkel


Migrants at a refugee camp in the Middle EastGETTY

There are millions of refugees in camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey


Leading Belgian politicians are furiously resisting handing out the visas – despite being ordered to do so by domestic courts – arguing it would set a “dangerous precedent” and leave Europe’s borders defenceless.They are arguing that a ruling in favour of the Syrian family would also rip up the asylum rulebook – enshrined in the Geneva convention – by effectively providing a means of applying for asylum in Europe from overseas. Humanitarian visas are not currently issued by the European Union.

As well as potentially impacting on Britain, such a decision would also be a disaster for Angela Merkel, as it would open the way for thousands of migrants to apply for asylum in Germany without even leaving the Middle East.

The beleaguered Chancellor has recently taken a hard line on immigration as her poll ratings have nosedived, unveiling plans to ban the burka and speed up deportations of failed asylum seekers and promising there will never be a repeat of 2015, when more than a million refugees arrived in Germany.

A fresh influx of refugees would be political dynamite ahead of a general election in the country next Autumn, further eroding trust in Mrs Merkel and boosting the anti-migrant, eurosceptic Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party.

And EU judges could effectively take control over Germany’s borders out of her hands if they rule against the Belgian government, which has been told to hand over visas to the Syrian family in a series of domestic court rulings.

This would start an influx in front of our consulates in Beirut and Ankara

Belgian interior minister Theo Francine

The case centres on a family of four refugees who applied for a three-month humanitarian visa at the Belgian embassy in Lebanon, after fleeing to the country from Syria.They want to be allowed to visit the town of Namur, 45 miles south of the capital Brussels, where they say there is a family ready to house and look after them.

Whilst a humanitarian visa does not automatically grant the right to permanently stay in Europe, the family would be able to file a claim for asylum once on Belgian soil.

The Belgian Government has refused to grant the family visas, arguing that the host family is not related to the Syrians, so they are not eligible to visit the country with a humanitarian visa.

Interior minister Theo Francine said that granting the request would “start an influx in front of our consulates in Beirut and Ankara” and would lead Belgium to “lose control” of its borders.

And prime minister Charles Michel added that he would not “open the door to humanitarian visas all over the world, allowing visa requests even when there is no link with Belgium”.

A lawyer representing the family has argued that the visa must be granted to the family under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), but the Government says the law does not apply in the Middle East.

A series of domestic courts have decided in favour of the Syrian family, with the country’s court of appeal ruling that the Government should have to pay €4,000 a day – €1,000 for each family member – until it gives them a visa.The referral to the ECJ is the last roll of the dice for the Belgian authorities, and EU judges are expected to take around three to five months to make a decision.

A ruling in favour of the asylum seekers would represent a hammer blow to the EU’s attempts to bring order to the chaotic migrant crisis, and would also fundamentally change Europe’s asylum system.

Currently, individual member states have their own rules on the granting of humanitarian visas, with some choosing to take a tougher line on applications from abroad than others.

But a ECJ ruling would be binding on all EU countries, harmonising an aspect of European asylum law across the bloc for the first time and leaving member states unable to decide on the issue themselves.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/742494/Migrant-crisis-European-Court-Justice-asylum-visa-Merkel-refugees-Germany-UK

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