Thanks to a regular coordination of information and advocacy strategies through EPAM’s migration sub-group, the European Commission obtained a considerable response from the EU NGOs and their national members to its November 2011 Green Paper proposal about whether to re-open negotiation of the EU family reunion directive (2003/86/EC). NGOs also presented a strong unified message at the EC’s public hearing, including a common statement signed by 75 EU and national NGOs.
NGOs’ overwhelming positions against re-negotiation reinforced the Commission’s position to maintain the directive and focus on enforcement. EPAM followed up on the Commissioner’s promise for new interpretative guidelines on the directive and related case-law. EPAM members met and eventually sent to the EC an NGO contribution to these guidelines, which outlined NGOs’ interpretation of each of the Directive’s articles reinforcing fundamental rights, the right to family life and family reunion, non-discrimination, and EU legal principles of proportionality and the rule of law.
As a result, the EC’s guidelines have drawn heavily from this contribution. Following the publication of the Interpretative Guidelines, EPAM organised its first joint activity, funded by the European Programme on Integration and Migration (EPIM). This 19-20 May brainstorming and training with EPAM national members most active on family reunion aimed to identify:
- Specific national cases of non-compliance with the directive;
- The potential impact of the new guidelines on these issues;
- The most useful means for NGOs and legal practitioners to improve enforcement through national policy change, EC infringement proceedings, and national/ECJ court cases.