[JURIST] The EU's highest court, the Court of Justice [official website], on Thursday ruled [press release] that Germany cannot require spouses of Turkish nationals living in Germany to show basic knowledge of the German language as a requirement when applying for family reunification visas. The case was brought by Naime Dogan, a Turkish woman whose husband had lived in Germany since 1998. Dogan was refused a visa in 2012 because she did not have a strong enough grasp of the German language. In its ruling, the court said that this requirement conflicts with EU law, specifically an agreement made in the 1970s between the EU and Turkey aimed at prohibiting new restrictions on the freedom to settle in the EU. The court stated:
In that regard, the Court holds that, on the assumption that the grounds set out by the German Government (namely the prevention of forced marriages and the promotion of integration) can constitute overriding reasons in the public interest, it remains the case that a national provision such as the language requirement at issue goes beyond what is necessary in order to attain the objective pursued, in so far as the absence of evidence of sufficient linguistic knowledge automatically leads to the dismissal of the application for family reunification, without account being taken of the specific circumstances of each case.The ruling could affect other similar language requirements throughout the EU.
Various countries in the EU have had issues with controversial immigration laws over the past decade. In 2011 an Indian couple challenged [JURIST report] a UK immigration law that contained an English language speaking requirement, and a court later ruled that the requirement violated human rights. In 2009 Italy's Senate passed [JURIST report] a controversial law making illegal immigration a crime, punishable by a fine of 5,000 to 10,000 euros. The law also increased the time law enforcement could hold suspected illegal immigrants from two months to six months. In 2007 French parliament passed [JURIST report] a strict immigration bill that requires language and cultural knowledge tests, as well as optional DNA testing, for immigrants who want to join their families in France.