On 4 October, the CJEU delivered its judgment on a preliminary ruling concerning the correct processing of applications for international protection lodged separately by family members and the interrelationship between them.

First, regarding the case where a person lodges an application, on their own and on behalf of a dependant, the Court confirmed that this is not covered by the inadmissibility ground of Article 33 (2)e of Directive 2013/32. According to the Court, that ground concerns cases where the dependant submits their own application, after having consented to the first application. Furthermore, this finding cannot be compromised by the fact that the application is based, among other facts, on a family tie with another person, who has also lodged a separate application for asylum. The latter should instead be assessed in the context of possible risks stemming from family ties with the person submitting the main claim of risk.

In this context, the Court started by reiterating its own case law on the importance of individual assessment of asylum claims, to be carried out in the context of the applicant’s personal circumstances. However, it concurred with AG Mengozzi’s conclusion in his Opinionthat, during that assessment, the applicant’s possible risk of persecution or serious harm, due to their family tie with the person at primary risk, must be taken into account. Lastly, regarding the mother’s personal claim that her involvement in ECtHR proceedings against Azerbaijan put her at risk, the Court held that such an involvement could be considered a reason to grant asylum, if Azerbaijan would consider the complaint before the ECtHR as political dissent, with the purpose of retaliating against its national.

Second, on the procedural considerations of interrelated applications by family members, the Court found that the need for prompt assessment of asylum requests, as interpreted in the Alheto case, means that an application for asylum cannot be suspended until another family member’s application is processed. However, the authorities can consider prioritising the assessment of the main application, upon which all claims are eventually based, before proceeding with the remaining applications, always in a timely manner. According to the Court, a single assessment of separate asylum requests lodged by family members would be unlawful, but an assessment of the interaction and relationship between those requests is not precluded by EU law.

Furthermore, on the question of the lawfulness of extension of refugee status to family members, the Court noted that this is in accordance with Directive 2011/95/EU, as long as there are no grounds for exclusion of that member, and the extension remains consistent with the overall rationale of the Directive’s provisions on family unity and international protection. Lastly, the Court clarified the conditions and scope of review, of evidence and arguments that are being presented for the first time at the second-instance proceedings, focusing on the significance, content and time of presentation of the new elements.