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EU Rights in the Spotlight

Case C-575/12, brought before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for preliminary ruling, regards an Indian citizen who was denied entry into Latvia because he did not have proper paperwork. He had a valid Italian visa and a valid Indian passport but his visa was not inside of this valid passport. Instead, his valid visa was affixed to a cancelled Indian passport. For entry, the Latvian authority was requiring a valid visa affixed to a valid passport. The Court has ruled against this requirement. Using the Visa Code and the Schengen Borders Code, the Court has ruled that the cancellation of a passport by a third-country authority does not imply that the visa issued by an EU member state is automatically annulled or revoked. Consequently, the entry of third-country nationals into the EU is subject to two separate conditions: the presentation of a valid travel document and the presentation of a valid visa.

In case C-491/13 the Court considered a situation in which German local authorities did not issue a student visa to a Tunisian citizen, even though he met all the official EU conditions for admission. The member state believed the admission decision to be within its national discretion. The Court has ruled against the existence of such discretion. EU countries are not allowed to introduce admission conditions other than those established by directive 2004/114/EC when admitting third-country nationals staying for more than three months as students. The Court believes this ruling to be in conjunction with the European purpose of promoting excellence in studies and vocational training.

In case C487/12 the ECJ stated that the Spanish law requiring airlines to carry checked baggage without a surcharge infringes upon EU law. According to the Court, this is because the price for a flight is not meant to include the service of checked baggage. Instead, checked baggage can be an optional service at an additional charge.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented pushbacks and mistreatment of Syrian asylum seekers by Bulgarian border police. The asylum seekers were pushed back to Turkey while receiving abuse. The border police are also reported to have stolen goods from the refugees. Lydia Gall, the Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher for HRW, urged the EU to put a stop to these abusive practices.

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