The Central Appeals Tribunal (Centrale Raad van Beroep, CRvB) of the Netherlands, the highest administrative court in the area of integration requirements (at least until 2012, as it still was at the time these appeals were filed) has handed down decisions (issued today) in the respective appeals of P. and S. The Court of Justice of the European Union had already issued a decision on 4 June 2015 on the preliminary questions referred by the CRvB in these cases, in which it asked the EU Court what the correct interpretation was of the applicable EU law. Since then, the CRvB had conducted a further investigation into the personal circumstances of P. and S. in order to decide if the decisions of the municipalities of Breda and Amstelveen were compatible with the status (connected to a permanent residence permit) of ‘long-term resident’, which both P. and S. possess and which is protected by EU law.
As to S.: the CRvB declared her appeal to be inadmissible, since she is (by now) an EU citizen due to the fact that she has Croatian nationality (in addition to New Zealand citizenship). She therefore cannot be forced to comply with any integration obligations, which means she no longer has standing in this appeal.
As to P.: the CRvB ruled that the municipality of Breda, at the time it imposed the integration requirement on her, did not sufficiently take into consideration the obvious medical problems that make it difficult for her to comply with the integration requirement. The municipality’s policy requires a person with an integration requirement such as P. to hire an approved physician, at her own expense, to obtain an exemption. The municipality appears to play no active role in this process. Furthermore, the municipality’s policy seems to expect a person with an integration requirement to go to the expense of taking the integration exam at least once. This appears to be a violation of EU law, the CRvB ruled. The CRvB has handed down an interim decision whereby it has given the municipality 6 weeks to revise its original decision imposing an integration requirement on P., while taking into account the CRvB’s considerations.
The CRvB has hereby followed the EU Court’s decision by ruling that specific individual circumstances must always be carefully investigated before an integration requirement can be enforced. Furthermore, a person with an integration requirement cannot be forced into excessive personal expenditures.