Fear of the consequences of uncontrolled mass immigration was one of the main reasons for Americans to elect Donald Trump as their new President, and for Brits to vote for Brexit.
But Paolo Mengozzi, an Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, knows better. In the opinion he delivered to the Court in the case of X and X v. Belgium — which could be reflected in the Court’s final ruling — he found that EU countries “must issue a visa” in cases where refusing one would place someone “at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.”
The opinion is surprising, given that the European Fundamental Rights Charter, on which the Advocate General’s argument is based, clearly does not provide for a “right”, let alone a “fundamental right”, of a non-EU citizen to immigrate into the EU.
It does provide for a right (for everyone, not only EU citizens!) not to be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment – but the scope of that right is limited to the EU’s own territory, and the EU’s own actions. What Mr. Mengozzi apparently fails to understand is that there is a difference between saying that “the EU and its Member States must not torture anyone” and saying that “the EU and its Member States are responsible for protecting everyone, wherever he might be, from being tortured in a third country.”
It is unfortunate that the Atdvocate General, prior to delivering his opinion, has not found the time for making a swift calculation or estimate just how many people might be entitled to an unlimited visa and resident permit in the EU if the Court were to follow his view. Are there 50 million people to whom visas “must be given”? Or 100 million? Or 200 million? One would like to know.