BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s top court ruled on Thursday that refugees can be stripped of the protective status in the bloc if they are convicted of a particularly serious crime and separately considered a danger to the community.
The ruling came in response to questions from courts in Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands considering appeals to the countries’ decisions to withdraw or refuse refugee protection to foreigners convicted of such crimes.
“The existence of a danger to the community … cannot be regarded as established by the mere fact that he or she has been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime,” the court said in a statement.
The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) stressed both conditions must be met simultaneously to justify revoking refugee status. Should that be the case, EU countries are allowed – but do not have to – remove protection, said the court in a ruling meant to inform national courts’ decisions in the related cases.
Immigration is a sensitive issue in the EU where foreigners are needed to ease labour market shortages.
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At the same time, the 27 member countries clash regularly over sharing out the responsibility for looking after people arriving irregularly into the bloc having fled conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
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