The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 14th January 2021 published its ruling on two preliminary references from Ireland (joined cases C-322/19 and C-385/19) concerning access to the labour market for applicants for international protection subject to Dublin transfer decisions.
KS, MHK, RAT and DS applied for international protection in Ireland between 2015 and 2018. They were subsequently issued with Dublin transfer decisions to other Member States, which they appealed.
In the interim, all four applicants had been refused permission to access the labour market. This was due to the exclusion of persons in Dublin proceedings from the eligible categories of applicants in Ireland’s transposition of the recast Reception Conditions Directive 2013/33/EU (RCD). The applicants challenged these refusals. The High Court and the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, on hearing the challenges, respectively stayed proceedings and submitted preliminary references to the CJEU.
The questions posed to the CJEU centred on the interpretation of ‘applicant’ under the RCD and the circumstances in which a delay in examining an application for international protection can be attributable to the applicant for the purposes of Article 15 of the RCD. The High Court also posed a question in relation to the interpretation of EU law where Ireland has not opted into related legislation.
The Court of Justice of the European Union held that that applicants for international protection cannot be excluded from access to the labour market on the sole ground that they have been issued a transfer decision under the Dublin III Regulation 604/2013 and clarified the limited scope for which a delay in processing an application can be attributed to the applicant.