On 19 March, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided on the limits of the possibility to reject applications for international protection as inadmissible due to the prior granting of protection by another Member State.

The cases concerned stateless Palestinians and a Russian national, of alleged Chechen ethnicity, who were holders of subsidiary protection in Bulgaria and Poland respectively. As the applications for asylum that they subsequently submitted in Germany were rejected on the ground that they came from a safe third country, they brought actions before the German courts. The cases ultimately reached the Federal Administrative Court, which decided to ask the CJEU to clarify the scope of application of the additional ground for inadmissibility introduced by Article 33 (2) (a) of Directive 2013/32/EU and any limits posed to it based on the living conditions in the Member State that granted the protection.

The CJEU ruled that an asylum seeker may not be transferred to the Member State that has previously granted him international protection if such living conditions would expose the applicant to a situation of extreme material poverty, contrary to the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR). In accordance with its findings in case C-163/17, the threshold was only met where such deficiencies, in light of all the circumstances of the individual case and information obtained from objective, reliable and up-to-date reports, attained a particularly high level of severity, going beyond a high degree of insecurity or a significant degradation of living conditions.

The Court further clarified that this threshold also applied where there were infringements of the provisions of Chapter VII of the Qualification Directive, including the level of the subsistence allowance granted to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. Lastly, the CJEU added that the fact that the Member State that granted subsidiary protection systematically refuses, without real examination, to grant refugee status does not prevent the other Member States from rejecting a further application submitted to them by the person concerned as being inadmissible.