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You Gotta Let Love Move: ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări.

  • Jorrit J. Rijpma
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Abstract

Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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Associate Professor of European Law and Jean Monnet Professor, Europa Institute, Leiden Law School. Some of the ideas underlying this case note were previously expressed in J.J. Rijpma, ‘Annotatie’, 137 JV 10 (2018) and J.J. Rijpma, ‘A Spouse is a Spouse’, Regulating for Globalisation, 8 June 2018, ⟨www.regulatingforglobalization.com/2018/06/08/a-spouse-is-a-spouse/⟩, visited 29 April 2019. The author would like to thank the European Law Section of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for swiftly handling his request for access to the written submission of the intervening governments and the Commission. Access was granted to all except the submission of the Hungarian government, which only consented to disclosure of its conclusions. Thanks, also, to two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. The usual disclaimers apply.

Footnotes

References

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1 ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări.

2 Opinion of AG Wathelet of 11 January 2018 in ECJ Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări.

3 Art. 7(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77 (henceforth: the Citizenship Rights Directive).

4 This requires member states to ‘confer a certain advantage, compared with applications for entry and residence of other nationals of third States on applications submitted by persons who have a relationship of particular dependence with a Union citizen’, see ECJ 5 September 2012, Case C-83/11, Secretary of State for the Home Department v Muhammad Sazzadur Rahman and Others, para. 21.

5 ECJ 7 July 1992, Case C-370/90, The Queen v Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Surinder Singh, ex p Secretary of State for Home Department, paras. 21 and 23; ECJ 11 December 2007, Case C-291/05, Minister voor Vreemdelingenzaken en Integratie v R.N.G. Eind, para. 35; ECJ 14 November 2017, Case C-165/16, Toufik Lounes v Secretary of State for the Home Department, para. 52.

6 ECJ 12 March 2014, C-456/12, O v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel and Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel v B, para. 54.

7 Ibid., para. 50.

8 Currently, civil marriage has been opened up to same sex couples in 14 member states, as well as in Iceland and Norway (EEA). Registered Partnership is an option in eight other member states, as well as Liechtenstein (EEA) and Switzerland.

9 Hungary, Latvia, Croatia, Lithuania and Slovakia.

10 Art. 277(1) of the Romanian Civil Code.

11 See, however, M. Khan, ‘Europe’s quiet new culture wars over LGBTI rights’, Financial Times, 6 December 2018, ⟨www.ft.com/content/d027b3c8-f902-11e8-8b7c-6fa24bd5409c⟩, visited 29 April 2019.

12 Request for a preliminary ruling from the Curtea Constituţională a României (Romania) made by decision of 29 November 2016, lodged on 30 December 2016, OJ C 104, 3.4.2017, p. 29.

13 ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, para. 22.

14 Ibid., para. 26. See also para. 28 and footnote 11 of the AG’s Opinion, distinguishing the facts at hand from ECJ 12 March 2014, C-456/12, O v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel and Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel v B.

15 ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, para. 34, with reference to ECJ 25 July 2008, C-127/08, Blaise Baheten Metock and Others v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, paras 98 and 99.

16 Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, ibid, para. 35

17 Ibid., para. 36.

18 Ibid., para. 37.

19 Ibid., para. 38.

20 Ibid., para. 39.

21 Ibid., para. 41.

22 Ibid., para. 44.

23 Ibid., para. 45.

24 Ibid., para. 46.

25 Ibid., para. 47.

26 Ibid., para. 49, making reference to Art. 52(3) of The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (henceforth: the Charter).

27 Ibid., para. 54.

28 See e.g. Bell, M., ‘Holding back the tide? Cross-border recognition of same-sex partnerships within the European Union’, 12 Eur Rev Priv Law (2004) p. 613; Kochenov, D., ‘On options of citizens and moral choices of states: gays and European federalism’, 33 Fordham Int Law J (2009) p. 156; Toner, H., ‘Migration rights and same-sex couples in EU law: a case study’, in Boele-Woelki, K. and Fuchs, A. (eds.), Legal Recognition of Partnerships in Europe (Intersentia 2012) p. 285; J.J. Rijpma and N.R. Koffeman, ‘Free Movement Rights for Same-Sex Couples under EU law: What Role to Play for the European Court of Justice?’, in D. Gallo et al. (eds.), Same Sex Couples Before National, Supranational and International Jurisdictions (Springer Verlag 2014) p. 455; A. Tryfonidou. ‘EU free movement law and the legal recognition of same-sex relationships: the case for mutual recognition’, 21 Columbia J of Eur Law (2015) p. 195.

29 Starting with the landmark case of ECtHR 24 June 2010, Case No. 30141/04, Schalk and Kopf v Austria, which brought same-relationships within the scope of family life, para. 94.

30 See, for instance, staff cases: ECJ 31 May 2001, Joined Cases C-122/99 P & C-125/99 P, D and Sweden v Council; GC 5 October 2009, T-58/08 P, Commission of the European Communities v Anton Pieter Roodhuijzen. See in the field of employment: ECJ 17 February 1998, C-249/96, Lisa Jacqueline Grant v South-West Trains Ltd.; ECJ, 1 April 2008, C-267/06, Tadao Maruko v Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen; ECJ 10 May 2011, C-147/08, Jürgen Römer v Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; ECJ 12 December 2013, C-267/12, Frédéric Hay v Crédit agricole mutuel de Charente-Maritime et des Deux-Sèvres; ECJ 24 November 2016, Case C-443/15, David L. Parris v Trinity College Dublin and Others.

31 ECJ 25 April 2013, Case C-81/12, Asociaţia Accept v Consiliul Naţional pentru Combaterea Discriminării.

32 ECJ 11 July 2002, Case C-60/00, Mary Carpenter v Secretary of State for the Home Department, para. 39; ECJ 17 September 2002, Case C-413/99, Baumbast and R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, para. 73.

33 ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, paras 37-38, referring to ECJ 24 November 2016, Case C-443/15, David L Parris v Trinity College Dublin and Others, para. 59.

34 Protocol (No 21) on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice and Protocol (No 22) on the position of Denmark.

35 See the case law referred to supra note 30, more specifically D and Sweden v Council, para. 34.

36 ECJ 24 November 2016, Case C-443/15, David L. Parris v Trinity College Dublin and Others, para. 58.

37 See the AG’s Opinion, para. 51.

38 COM(2003)199 final, p. 11.

39 COM(2009) 313 final, p. 4.

40 ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, para. 34.

41 S. Peers, ‘Love wins in the CJEU: Same Sex Marriages and EU free movement law’, EU Law Analysis, 5 June 2018, ⟨www.eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2018/06/love-wins-in-cjeu-same-sex-marriages.html⟩, visited 29 April 2019, and A. Tryfonidou, ‘Free Movement of Same-Sex Spouses within the EU: The ECJ’s Coman judgment’, European Law Blog, 19 June 2018, ⟨www.europeanlawblog.eu/tag/coman-case/⟩, visited 29 April 2019.

42 AG Opinion, para. 93. The Hungarian government concluded that a same-sex spouse could, in principle, be included under Art. 3(2) of the Directive but that this depended on the circumstances of the individual case.

43 ECJ 25 February 2016, Case C-299/14, Vestische Arbeit Jobcenter Kreis Recklinghausen v Jovanna García-Nieto and Others. Although, admittedly, this case was decided in relation to EU citizens residing in the host member state on the basis of Art. 6 of the Directive, it could be argued that they should have qualified for equal treatment as family members within the definition of Art. 3(2) of the Directive.

44 AG Opinion, para. 56.

45 A different but similar reference related to non-traditional (western) family forms is currently pending before the Court, which seeks to ascertain whether a child under permanent legal guardianship known as ‘kefalah’, a concept of Islamic law similar to adoption, must be considered a direct descendant in the sense of Art. 2(2)(c) of the Directive (Case C-129/18, SM, Request for a preliminary ruling from the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom made on 19 February 2018, OJ C 134, 16.4.2018, p. 17).

46 AG Opinion, para. 28.

47 ECJ 12 May 2011, C-391/09, Malgožata Runevič-Vardyn and Łukasz Paweł Wardyn v Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės administracija and Others, para. 76 and the case law cited therein.

48 K. Lenaerts, ‘Federalism and the rule of law: perspectives from the European Court of Justice’, 33 Fordham Int Law J (2011) p. 1338 at p. 1360-1361. Note that in a later (co-authored) article, he is less outspoken, stating that it would be interesting to see how the Court might interpret the concept of ‘spouse’: K. Lenaerts and J.A. Gutierrez-Fons, ‘To Say What the Law of the EU Is: Methods of Interpretation and the European Court of Justice’, 20 Colum J Eur L (2013-2014) p. 3 at p. 49.

49 AG Opinion, para. 76.

50 ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, para. 45.

51 ECtHR 21 July 2015, Case Nos. 18766/11 and 36030/11, Oliari and Others v Italy, para. 185, as also noted by the AG in footnotes 25 and 42 to his Opinion. Note, also, that the Staff Tribunal has been willing to take into consideration whether access to marriage is practical and effective, 14 October 2010, Case F-86/09, W v Commission, para. 44.

52 Oliari and Others v Italy, ibid, para. 180.

53 ECJ 22 December 2010, Case C-208/09, Ilonka Sayn-Wittgenstein v Landeshauptmann von Wien, and ECJ 12 May 2011, Case C-391/09, Malgožata Runevič-Vardyn and Łukasz Paweł Wardyn v Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės administracija and Others.

54 Ilonka Sayn-Wittgenstein v Landeshauptmann von Wien, ibid, para. 66 and Malgožata Runevič-Vardyn and Łukasz Paweł Wardyn v Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės administracija and Others, ibid, para.52.

55 J. Sterck, ‘Sameness and selfhood: The efficiency of constitutional identities in EU law’, 24 ELJ (2018) p. 281 at p. 289.

56 ECJ 5 December 2017, Case C-42/17, Criminal proceedings against M.A.S. and M.B. See G. Piccirilli, ‘The “Taricco Saga”: the Italian Constitutional Court continues its European journey’, 14(4) EuConst (2018) p. 820. This is similar to the approach that was adopted in ECJ 14 October 2004, C-36/02, Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH v Oberbürgermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn, para. 34.

57 M. van den Brink, ‘Is the Reasoning in “Coman” as Good as the Result?’, 10 June 2018, ⟨www.verfassungsblog.de/is-the-reasoning-in-coman-as-good-as-the-result/⟩, visited 29 April 2019.

58 ECJ 5 June 2018, Case C-673/16, Coman, Hamilton, Accept v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, para. 49, referring to Art. 52(3) of the Charter.

59 Ibid., para. 50.

60 ECtHR 14 December 2017, Case Nos 26431/12; 26742/12; 44057/12 and 60088/12, Orlandi and Others v Italy, para. 209.

61 Art. 52(3) of the Charter.

62 ECtHR 30 June 2016, Case No 51362/09, Taddeucci and McCall v Italy, para. 89.

63 Ibid., para. 93.

64 ECtHR 21 July 2015, Case Nos. 18766/11 and 36030/11, Oliari and Others v Italy, para. 192.

65 ECtHR 24 April 2002, Pretty v the United Kingdom, Case No 2346/02, para. 65.

66 See e.g. Court of Appeal for Ontario, Halpern v Attorney General (2003) 65 OR (3d) 161, para. 5; Constitutional Court of South Africa, Minister of Home Affairs and Another v Fourie and Another; Lesbian and Gay Equality Project and Others v Minister of Home Affairs and Others [2005] ZACC 19, para. 78 per Sachs J.

67 Cf Ninth District Court of Appeals of California 7 February 2012, Perry v Brown, Nos. 10-16696, 11-16577, per Judge Reinhardt, p. 5.

68 United States Supreme Court 26 June 2015, Case No 14-556, Obergefell et al. v Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health et al. See also M. Finck, ‘The role of human dignity in gay rights adjudication and legislation: A comparative perspective’, 14 I-Con (2016) p. 26.

69 Romanian Constitutional Court Decision No. 534, 18 July 2018, ⟨www.ccr.ro/files/products/decizia_534_2018.pdf⟩, visited 29 April 2019. See, however, Austria: VfGH 4.12.2017, G 258/2017.

70 E. Brodeala, ‘Paying Lip Service to the CJEU: The Unsurprising Decision of the Constitutional Court of Romania in the Coman Case’, EUI Blogs, 29 July 2018, ⟨blogs.eui.eu/constitutionalism-politics-working-group/paying-lip-service-cjeu-unsurprising-decision-constitutional-court-romania-coman-case/⟩, visited 24 May 2019.

* Associate Professor of European Law and Jean Monnet Professor, Europa Institute, Leiden Law School. Some of the ideas underlying this case note were previously expressed in J.J. Rijpma, ‘Annotatie’, 137 JV 10 (2018) and J.J. Rijpma, ‘A Spouse is a Spouse’, Regulating for Globalisation, 8 June 2018, ⟨www.regulatingforglobalization.com/2018/06/08/a-spouse-is-a-spouse/⟩, visited 29 April 2019. The author would like to thank the European Law Section of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for swiftly handling his request for access to the written submission of the intervening governments and the Commission. Access was granted to all except the submission of the Hungarian government, which only consented to disclosure of its conclusions. Thanks, also, to two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. The usual disclaimers apply.

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