National courts have continued to deal with the consequences of Zambrano. Although Dereci and MacCarthy clarified that compulsion to leave related solely to practical consequences, the scope of ‘practical consequences’ was not determined by the CJEU. While the rupture of strong emotional and psychological ties within the family would not demonstrate compulsion to leave, would the removal of the rights to welfare engage the Zambrano right?
This question was discussed in a previous post on the ‘Zambrano Amendments’ introduced in 2012 at the same time as changes were made to the EEA Regulations 2006 implementing Citizenship Directive 2004/38 to give effect to the Zambrano decision. These ‘Zambrano Amendments’ banned Zambrano carers from all mainstream benefits under national law – employed and unemployed Zambrano carers were henceforth excluded from eligibility for social security benefits, child tax credits and housing entitlements. In HC and Sanneh, it was decided that this blanket refusal of welfare benefits was legal – it did not compel a Zambrano carer to leave the EU. The substance of the Zambrano right to reside remained intact even if the Zambrano carer was left destitute and without adequate resources to care for the EU citizen child.
LJ Elias introduced in Harrison what has become the standard dicta for understanding the Zambrano principle. Dismissing a broad approach to the CJEU ruling, he stated:
‘… The right of residence is a right to reside in the territory of the EU. It is not a right to any particular quality or life or to any particular standard of living. Accordingly, there is no impediment to exercising the right to reside if residence remains possible as a matter of substance, albeit that the quality of life is diminished. Of course, to the extent that the quality or standard of life will be seriously impaired by excluding the non EU national, that is likely in practice to infringe the right of residence itself because it will effectively compel the EU citizen to give up residence and travel with the non-EU national. But in such a case the Zambrano doctrine would apply and the EU citizen’s rights would have to be protected (save for the possibility of a proportionate deprivation of rights).’
The Zambrano principle is thus limited to situations where the EU citizen is irrefutably in practice forced to leave the EU. The CJEU has not yet had an opportunity to comment on this approach and it has continued to be applied, most recently in Hines v London Borough of Lambeth where the removal of one parent was found compatible with the Zambrano principle. Surprisingly, it was not applied in R (Osawemwenze) v SS Home Department where both parents were told to relocate with two small children who may have been EU citizens. These cases continue the theme raised in my last post on the compatibility of rights under EU and ECHR law, in particular the rights of the child. The cases also provide further insight into the national judicial response to the Zambrano ruling.
Maureen Hines, a Jamaican citizen without permission to remain in the UK, was refused housing assistance despite being mother to a 5-year old boy, Brandon, who was born in the UK and thus an EU national. The reviewer for Lambeth decided that even if the refusal caused Hines to leave the UK, Brandon’s father, who had an EU right to permanent residence in the UK, could look after him: although his parents had separated, Brandon did spend two days and nights a week with his father. Continue reading