EU court slaps down German language-for-visa rule for Turks

AFP , Thursday 10 Jul 2014

The European Union's highest court rejected on Thursday a German rule conditioning visas for Turks looking to reunite with their spouses to a basic knowledge of German.

The case was brought against Germany by Naime Dogan, who in January last year was refused a visa to join her husband, a 15-year German resident, by Germany's embassy in Ankara.

The refusal was under a 2007 family reunification rule requiring that spouses of Turks seeking residency in Germany be able to communicate in German at least at a basic level.

The condition was intended to prevent forced marriages and promote integration.

But the Court of Justice said it clashed with the conditions of the EU's Association Agreement with Turkey from the 1970s, as it "prohibits the introduction of new restrictions on the freedom of establishment."

"Such a language requirement makes family reunification more difficult", a court statement said, and was "a new restriction of the exercise of the freedom of establishment by Turkish nationals."

The court added that while a government could decide new restrictions in the public interest -- such as that of 2007 to help integration or fight forced marriages -- "the language requirement at issue goes beyond what is necessary in order to attain the objective."

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