Following a high profile court case in Brussels a ruling from the European Court has ruled that members of the European Union are not obliged to grant visas to people on humanitarian grounds including those at risk of torture. Following a ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the ruling stated that:
The hearing came as a result of a court case of a Syrian family who had requested to stay in Belgium but had been refused. The ruling has huge implications for asylum seekers entering the EU from Syria and North Africa of which some 1.6m have travelled over the past two years. It also helps those that have tried to resist letting unlimited number of asylum seekers into the European Union. The ruling means that now countries may issue visas under these circumstances if they want to but there is no legally binding requirement to do so.
Whilst many have welcomed the ruling saying that it will allow countries and the European Union as a whole to take back their borders and send migrants back to their own countries easier some charities and politicians have branded the decision as inhumane. Much of the political landscape in the European Union is now dominated by the issue of immigration – both legal and illegal and there are fierce divisions of opinion in how the countries should tackle rising immigration. Whilst this ruling will not change that debate it will give some reassurance to those that feel that countries should be responsible for granting visas on a case by case basis. The European Union is facing a serious challenge to the status quo with Brexit and crucial elections in France and it remains to be seen how the union reacts to future issues of immigrations and visas.