The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided Tuesday that EU member states are not obliged to grant humanitarian visas to refugees who are in serious danger outside their borders. While EU states are still free to issue humanitarian visas if they wish, none are likely to do so in today’s politically charged climate.
The decision is a missed opportunity for safe and legal pathways for effective and well-organized migration to the EU. Europe is becoming less and less accessible via legal routes. Vulnerable refugees languish in volatile third countries like Turkey and Libya, which already host millions of displaced. They are increasingly encouraged to undertake perilous journeys, and are pushed into the arms of smugglers and human traffickers.
Together with the dramatic restrictions in US refugee policy, the CJEU decision marks another defeat for humane treatment of refugees worldwide. Highly vulnerable refugees including sexual and gender minorities will continue to suffer disproportionately as a result. Many will pay with their lives.