Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Eighth Report



32. RIGHT TO FAMILY REUNIFICATION

 

 

(23452)

8628/02

COM(02) 225

Amended proposal for a Council Directive on the right to family reunification.

Legal base:

Article 63(3)(a) EC; consultation; unanimity

   

Department:

Home Office

Basis of consideration:

Minister's letter of 31 July 2002

Previous Committee Report:

HC 152-xxxvii (2001-02), paragraph 8 (17 July 2002)

To be discussed in Council:

Date not set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Cleared, but information on progress requested

 

 

Background

    1. This is an amended version of the draft Directive on family reunification which has been under discussion for over two and a half years, and has proved extremely difficult to negotiate.
    2. When we first considered this amended proposal in July, we expressed disappointment that so many compromises had been made in the attempt to reach consensus. However, we were encouraged that new efforts were being made to agree a Directive which should, at least, be a starting point for harmonisation.
    3. We decided to keep the document under scrutiny until we knew whether the UK had decided to opt in to the draft Directive. (The Explanatory Memorandum told us that the UK had another period of three months from publication of the amended proposal in which to make this decision.) We also asked for the Government's view of the exclusion of those with subsidiary protection status from the provisions of the draft Directive.
    4. The Minister's letter

    5. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Race Equality, Community Policy and European and International Policy (Lord Filkin) has now written in response to our Report. With regard to our request for the Government's view of the exclusion of those with subsidiary protection status from the provisions of the draft Directive, he says:
    6. "As the Committee will be aware, the European Commission had stated that, whilst it considers that persons in this category must have the right to family reunification and need protection, it recognises that the absence of a harmonised concept of subsidiary protection at Community level constitutes an obstacle to their inclusion in the proposed directive. The Commission had also previously indicated its intention to present a separate proposal on subsidiary protection with provisions for family reunification.

      "Provision for the minimum rights and benefits to be enjoyed by the beneficiaries of subsidiary protection status have now been incorporated into the Refugee Qualification Directive. Conditions for granting subsidiary protection to accompanying family members are also included within the scope of this Directive. The Government welcomes this proposal and considers that the draft Directive adequately sets out provision for the family reunification of those with subsidiary protection. These provisions are in line with the UK's current procedure to grant permission to remain to a family member who is already in the UK."

    7. The Minister then tells us that, since the Explanatory Memorandum was submitted, legal advice has confirmed that the UK does not have a further opportunity to opt into the proposal at this stage.
    8. Conclusion

    9. We thank the Minister for his response. We are still holding the Refugee Qualification Directive under scrutiny, and will give full consideration to its provisions for the family reunification of those with subsidiary protection.
    10. We note that the UK does not have an opportunity to opt into the amended proposal at this stage. We therefore clear the document, but ask to be kept informed of any further amendments to the text, and the Government's view of them.

 


 
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