Conservatives dismayed by European Court's visa verdict

18-Dec-2014 @ 10:30

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Conservative MEPs today expressed dismay over a European Court of Justice ruling rejecting Britain's visa policy for foreign spouses of EU citizens.

The UK insists that all non-EU family members of EU nationals must be in possession of a “Family Permit” to visit. The measure helps prevent abuse as residence permits vary greatly from country to country.

However the rule has been challenged in an appeal to the ECJ by a Colombian woman living in Spain and married to a man with joint British-Irish citizenship. She claims the requirement breaches the EU's Free Movement Directive.

Today's ruling upholds her claim and denies Britain's right to apply the visa.

Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative spokesman on justice and home affairs, said:  "Of course the UK should have an immigration system which is fair, and does not disadvantage the right of British citizens to be with their family.

"However, we are disappointed with this judgement as we believe that the UK's visa system is both fair and lawful, and does an important job in meeting this country's migration needs.

"Britain will always be best placed to decide and deal with its own immigration needs...not a judge in Luxembourg.

"We must have a system robust enough to prevent abuse and flexible enough to assess each case on its merits. Most of all we need a visa system controlled by the UK and not the EU.

"Conservatives have significantly lowered immigration from outside the EU. We have tackled abuse through routes such as student visas. We are addressing failures of the last Labour government."

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