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CJEU Grand Chamber delivers landmark judgment in case about the retained rights of EU dual national citizens

DATE: 17 Nov 2017

The Grand Chamber of the CJEU has delivered its judgment in an important case about the impact of dual citizenship on the ability of EU nationals to retain rights under Directive 2004/38 (the Free Movement Directive). The case of Lounes is a reference from the English High Court (Lang J). Mr Lounes is an Algerian national who was unlawfully present in the United Kingdom when he met and married a Spanish national, Mrs Ormazabal. She had moved to the United Kingdom by exercising her free movement rights but then acquired British citizenship several years before the marriage. Mr Lounes' application for an EEA residence permit was refused on the grounds that his wife fell outside the scope of the Directive because she was resident in her state of nationality. The question was whether in those circumstances she could continue to rely on rights under the Directive or whether she was subject solely to domestic law in the United Kingdom. 

The Grand Chamber has confirmed that the Free Movement Directive ceased to govern Mrs Ormazabal's situation after she acquired British citizenship and, accordingly, it no longer applies to her. However, it ruled that  a non-EU national in Mr Lounes’ situation is eligible for a derived right of residence under Article 21(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ("TFEU"), on conditions which must not be stricter than those provided for by the directive for the grant of such a right to a third country national family member of an EU citizen who has exercised his right of freedom of movement. 

Press coverage of the judgment can be found here and here

David Blundell represented the United Kingdom.