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The Reality Test of Residence goes through the Looking Glass: Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States (EFTA Court), judgment of 26 July 2016, Case E-28/15, Yankuba Jabbi v The Norwegian Government, represented by the Immigration Appeals Board

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Dr. Jeremy Bierbach is attorney at Franssen Advocaten, Amsterdam, and associate fellow of the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance.

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1 ECJ 7 July 1992, Case C-370/90, R v Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Surinder Singh, ex p Secretary of State for the Home Department.

2 ECJ 11 December 2007, Case C-291/05, Minister voor Vreemdelingenzaken en Integratie v RNG Eind.

3 ECJ 12 March 2014, Case C-456/12, O v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel, and Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel v B. See my extensive analysis of this case and the case it was paired with, S&G: ECJ 12 March 2014, Case C-457/12, S v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel and Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel v G, in Bierbach J.B., Frontiers of Equality in the Development of EU and US citizenship (TMC Asser Press 2017) ch. 10.

4 Art. 28, Art. 33 and Art. 36 EEA Agreement.

5 Art. 45, Art. 49 and Art. 56 TFEU.

6 In the EFTA states, the Directive must be read in conjunction with the Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No. 158/2007 of 7 December 2007, which provides guidelines for the reading and implementation of the Directive there.

7 4th and 15th recitals and Art. 6 EEA Agreement.

8 Supra n. 1.

9 Supra n.1, para. 20.

10 Supra n. 3. See, generally, Bierbach J.B., ‘European Citizens’ Third-Country Family Members and Community Law’, 4(2) EuConst (2008) p. 344 .

11 Supra n. 3, paras. 31-40.

12 Supra n. 1, paras. 37-43.

13 ECJ 5 May 2011, Case C-434/09, McCarthy v Secretary of State for the Home Department, also known in the literature - and referred to in Jabbi - as McCarthy I. A subsequent decision from the ECJ in the case of an unrelated ‘McCarthy’, but in a not entirely unrelated area, ECJ 18 December 2014, Case C-202/13, Sean Ambrose McCarthy et al v Secretary of State for the Home Department, is also known as McCarthy II.

14 O&B, supra n. 3, para. 49.

15 ECJ 19 October 2004, Case C-200/02, Kunqian Catherine Zhu, Man Lavette Chen v Secretary of State for the Home Department para. 45, in which the Court refers directly to ECJ 17 September 2002, Case C-413/99, Baumbast and R v Secretary of State for the Home Department paras. 71-75. See also Bierbach (2017), supra n. 3, p. 359-360 .

16 Or, for that matter, Art. 16(1) and (2) of the Directive, providing for a right of permanent residence after five years of legal residence in the host member state.

17 O&B, supra n. 3, paras. 51-56.

18 ECJ O v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel, and Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel v B para. 61.

19 Paras. 22-27 of the decision.

20 Paras. 28-47 of the decision.

21 Paras. 28-33.

22 Para. 36.

23 Para. 61. By obvious comparison, Directive 2004/38 is also incorporated into the EEA agreement, in Annexes V and VIII on the freedom of movement of workers and the freedom of establishment, respectively: para. 7.

24 ‘WHEREAS, in full deference to the independence of the courts, the objective of the Contracting Parties is to arrive at, and maintain, a uniform interpretation and application of this Agreement and those provisions of Community legislation which are substantially reproduced in this Agreement and to arrive at an equal treatment of individuals and economic operators as regards the four freedoms and the conditions of competition’.

25 Para. 70.

26 Para. 71.

27 Paras. 72, 74-75.

28 Para. 77, citing Eind, supra n. 2, paras. 35 and 36. Cf. O&B, supra n. 3, para. 54, which makes an identical reference to Eind.

29 Para. 80.

30 Para. 81 (and the dictum). Cf. O&B, supra n. 3, para. 61.

31 Hereby also for the first time openly asserting its independence, according to Philipp Speitler, a former high-ranking member of the legal staff of the Court, in ‘Where have all the vision(arie)s gone?: Free movement of people and the new legal order – the EEA’, blog entry at the Centre for European Legal Studies <www.cels.law.cam.ac.uk/brexitfree-movement-persons-and-new-legal-order/philipp-speitler-where-have-all-visionaries-gone>, visited 25 March 2017.

32 ECJ 5 February 1963, Case 26/62, Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen: ‘In addition the task assigned to the Court of Justice under Article 177, the object of which is to secure uniform interpretation of the Treaty by national courts and tribunals, confirms that the states have acknowledged that Community law has an authority which can be invoked by their nationals before those courts and tribunals.’

33 With regard to the other sources of the principle of homogeneity referred to supra in n. 7: the Court could not have drawn on Art. 6 EEA for this ruling, because that provision provides only for homogeneous interpretation of EEA law with ‘the relevant rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Communities given prior to the date of signature of this Agreement’. And the 4th recital of the EEA Agreement, ‘CONSIDERING the objective of establishing a […] homogeneous European Economic Area, […] providing for the adequate means of enforcement including at the judicial level’ does not appear to provide much of a basis for the Court to exceed the limits set by Art. 6 EEA by asserting its independence.

34 Which, in turn, is a reference to ECJ 20 September 2001, Case C-184/99, Rudy Grzelczyk v Centre public d’aide sociale d’Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve.

35 See Baudenbacher C., ‘The EFTA court: an actor in the European judicial dialogue’, 28(2) Fordham International Law Journal (2005) p. 353 at p. 360; Baudenbacher C., ‘Facets of an EEA Constitutional Order’, in N. Colneric et al. (eds.), Une communauté de droit : Festschrift für Gil Carlos Rodríguez Iglesias (Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2003) p. 346 .

36 O&B, supra n. 3, para. 52.

37 I am borrowing heavily here from one part of my analysis of O&B in Bierbach (2017), supra n. 3 at p. 423-424.

38 O&B, supra n. 3, para. 32, second question.

39 O&B, supra n. 3, para. 56.

40 ECJ 23 March 1982, Case C-53/81, DM Levin v Staatssecretaris van Justitie.

41 Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State, 7 September 2010 , ECLI:NL:RVS:2010:BN6685 (with annotation by H. Oosterom-Staples), Jurisprudentie Vreemdelingenrecht (2010) p. 437 , para. 2.1.3; in another judgment, the Raad van State reads ECJ 25 July 2008, Case C-127/08, Blaise Baheten Metock and Others v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform as requiring ‘genuine use’ of the right of movement and residence for Directive 2004/38 to be applicable: Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State, 29 February 2012 ,ECLI:NL:RVS:2012:BV7838, Jurisprudentie Vreemdelingenrecht, (2012) p. 159 , para. 2.1.3, and concludes in that case that the Dutch national and his family member had not had ‘effective and genuine residence’ in Estonia, para. 2.3. This case law of the Raad van State, in which its own interpretation of European law takes on a life of its own, can be characterised as what Van Harten calls a ‘national European law precedent’: H. Van Harten, Autonomie van de nationale rechter in het Europees recht : een verkenning van de praktijk aan de hand van de Nederlandse Europeesrechtelijke rechtspraak over de vestigingsvrijheid en het vrijedienstenverkeer (diss. Universiteit van Amsterdam 2011) ch. 5.

42 ECJ 23 September 2003, Case C-109/01, Secretary of State for the Home Department v Hacene Akrich, paras. 55-56. See Peers S., ‘Free Movement, Immigration Control and Constitutional Conflict’, 5(2) EuConst (2009) p. 173 , who rightly says (on p. 178) that ‘the Akrich judgment probably qualifies as the worst judgment in the long history of the Court of Justice’ due to numerous flawed considerations, which the Court subsequently overturned in ECJ 25 July 2008, Case C-127/08, Blaise Baheten Metock and Others v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; however, as Peers notes on p. 194, there is no reason to think that the Court thereby overturned its consideration in Akrich on ‘abuse’.

43 Fløistad Karin, ‘Free movement of persons in the European Economic Area (EEA) – different from the EU?’, EU Law Analysis , 27 July 2016, <eulawanalysis.blogspot.nl/2016/07/free-movement-of-persons-in-european.html>, visited 24 March 2017.

44 C.A. Groenendijk, annotation of Jabbi in Jurisprudentie Vreemdelingenrecht 2016/268, para. 5.

45 Supra n. 11.

46 Eind, supra n. 2, para. 39.

47 Bierbach (2017), supra n. 3, p. 373-374.

48 For a good overview of the distinction that can be made between rights derived from Art. 20 TFEU and Art. 21(1) TFEU in EU law, see the comments of the (now) President of the European Court of Justice, K. Lenaerts, ‘“Civis europaeus sum”: from the cross-border link to the status of citizen of the Union’, 3 FMW: Online Journal on free movement of workers within the European Union (2011) p. 6 .

49 Wintour P., ‘European Free Trade Area Could be UK’s Best Brexit option, says judge’, The Guardian, 1 December 2016 .

50 Supra n. 34. See Bierbach (2017), supra n. 3, p. 326-329 .

51 Supra n. 15.

52 EFTA 26 July 2011, Case E-4/11, Arnulf Clauder.

53 Supra n. 15, para. 72.

54 ECJ 15 November 2011, Case C-256/11, Dereci et al v Bundesministerium für Inneres para. 70-72.

55 ‘[A] provision such as Article 20 or 21 TFEU is not simply a basis for residence status separate from Article 7 of the Charter. Rather, considerations regarding the exercise of the right to a family life permeate the substance of EU citizenship rights’: AG Sharpston in ECJ 12 December 2013, Case C-456/12, C-457/12 O and S v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel (Opinion).

56 See Bierbach (2017), supra in n. 3, p. 365 .

57 See, for instance, A. Schrauwen, ‘Hof van Justitie EU (Grote Kamer) 12 maart 2014, C-457/12. (annotation)’, European Human Rights Cases, 2014 (2014) p. 136 , para. 6, who notes critically that where in Carpenter, the Court once relied significantly on the right to family life in interpreting the freedom of establishment (Art. 56 TFEU), the court followed up on that in S&G, supra n. 3, with a reading of the freedom of movement of workers (Art. 45 TFEU) that might not provide the same level of protection of family life.

* Dr. Jeremy Bierbach is attorney at Franssen Advocaten, Amsterdam, and associate fellow of the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance.

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