Since 2003, one of the cornerstones of Danish immigration and family reunification policy has been the ‘Tilknytningskravet’ – the requirements determining how strong a person’s attachment is to Denmark.
Among other things, the rules say that in order to obtain family reunification the couple’s joint attachment to Denmark should be greater than that to any other country. Weight is placed on the length of time a couple have spent in Denmark compared to their homeland.
In an almost unprecedented step, Denmark’s Eastern High Court (Østre Landsret) has approached the European Court for an evaluation of the rules that apply to people of Turkish nationality. The outcome could result in thousands of cases having to be reopened, reports Politiken.
“It is not often that we consult the European Court in such cases. However, based on a number of decisions made by the court in recent years, we’re in doubt so we have asked the European Court for their opinion,” said Karen Hald, the high court judge.
The problem lies in Turkey not being a member of the EU. It has had an association agreement with the EU since the 1960s, and that means it is treated as an EU member in many ways.
Between 2004 and 2015, more than 14,000 people were refused family reunification, with people from Turkey accounting for the largest share.
Lawyer Thomas Ryhl from Njord Law Firm, who represent clients seeking family reunification, estimates that the state could have acted illegally in 7,000 to 8,000 cases.
In the first instance, the rules may have to be amended for Turks. However, last time Denmark found itself in a similar situation, the Justice Ministry had to change the rules for everyone because it is not possible to treat people in a discriminatory fashion.
“It could also end up with us being in a situation in which the Tilknytningskravet requirements are ruled out for all citizens outside the EU,” said Rhyl.