Silence is not (Always) Golden: A Criticism of the ECJ’s Approach towards Integration Conditions for Family Reunification

European Journal of Migration and Law 23 (2021) 176–201.

18 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2021

See all articles by Sarah Ganty

Sarah Ganty

Yale Law School; Ghent University - Faculty of Law; Central European University


Over the past 20 years, integration duties imposed on third-country nationals have spread and become more rigid in EU Member States. They increasingly restrict the conditions for obtain-ing residence permits as well as the benefit of social rights. These integration conditions take on singular forms and raise particular issues in relation to the Association Agreement concluded between the European Union and Turkey, in particular with regard to so-called ‘stand-still clauses’. The present article begins from the A v. Udlændinge-og Integrationsministeriet case and criticises the Court’s silence about the elephant in the room on the issue of integration conditions towards third-country nationals: racial and/or ethnic discrimination. The case is about an integration condition imposed by the Danish Government as a prerequisite for a ‘family reunion’ residence permit for the spouse of a Turkish worker: the spouses must prove that they have a stronger link with Denmark than with Turkey. The solution adopted by the Court of Justice in striking down this integration condition is not surprising. However, its reasoning suggests more tolerance – or even laxity – about the way the concept of integration is used by the Member States. This situation is problematic insofar as these integration conditions, the very principle of which is questionable per se, conceal increasingly discriminatory and exclusionary measures which the Court is reluctant to denounce, as opposed to the Euro-pean Court of Human Rights.

Keywords: EU-Turkey Association Agreement, integration, discrimination, standstill clause, immigration

Suggested Citation

Ganty, Sarah, Silence is not (Always) Golden: A Criticism of the ECJ’s Approach towards Integration Conditions for Family Reunification. European Journal of Migration and Law 23 (2021) 176–201., Available at SSRN:

Sarah Ganty (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Ghent University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Universiteitstraat 4
Ghent, B-9000

Central European University ( email )


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