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Calls for more Action on EU Family Reunification

The beneficiaries of international protection in the European Union (EU) often face excessive red tape when seeking to reunite with their families, according to a new report from the European Council on Refugees and Exiles and the Red Cross EU Office.

The report highlights the inadequacy of the family reunification procedure when compared to the realities of refugee flight.

For example, requiring family members to travel back to a country they were forced to flee and approach the embassy of the relevant Member State in that country is often extremely difficult. Such administrative requirements also increase the vulnerabilities of refugees as it is often costly and dangerous.

The report also claims that current procedures tend to lead to further isolation and the separation of families, which is contrary to the stated objective of the Council Directive of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification, and in breach of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

To help resolve these issues, the report recommends that a protection-oriented approach to family reunification procedures is applied, in order for the right to family reunification to be effective.

It also recommends that action be taken to ensure effective access to embassies and consulates abroad, without unnecessary obstacles such as disproportionate documentary evidence or unjustified presence requirements.

“Current family reunification procedures in the EU tend to lead to further isolation and separation of families” said Leon Prop, Director of the Red Cross EU Office. “Lengthy and costly procedures are a burden for families that are already living in a precarious situation.”

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