Refusal to issue in addition to a passport, an identity card serving as a travel document, on the sole ground that a person is domiciled in another Member State, is contrary to EU law (ECJ)

According to the Judgment of the Court in Case C-491/21 (Direcţia pentru Evidenţa Persoanelor şi Administrarea Bazelor de Date), the refusal by a Member State to issue to one of its nationals, in addition to a passport, an identity card serving as a travel document, on the sole ground that he or she is domiciled in another Member State, is contrary to EU law.

That refusal restricts the right to freedom of movement within the European Union, creating a difference in treatment between citizens domiciled abroad and those domiciled in that Member State.

Since 2014, a Romanian lawyer has been domiciled in France and carries out his professional activities in both France and Romania. In 2017, he applied to the Romanian authorities to be issued with an identity card, whether simple or electronic, as a travel document enabling him to travel to France. That application was rejected on the ground that he was domiciled abroad. Hearing that case, the High Court of Cassation and Justice (Romania) referred a question to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. 

In its judgment, the Court of Justice holds that the refusal to issue an identity card on the sole ground that the person concerned is not domiciled in Romania constitutes a restriction on the right to move and reside freely within the European Union in respect of Romanian nationals domiciled in another Member State. 

The Romanian legislation establishes a difference in treatment between Romanian citizens domiciled abroad and those who are domiciled in Romania. The former only have a passport as a travel document, while the latter may have an identity card and a passport. EU law (Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States) does not require Member States to issue two identity documents that may serve as travel documents to their nationals. 

However, it does not allow the Member States to treat less favourably those nationals who have exercised their right to move and to reside freely within the European Union, without justification based on objective considerations of public interest. Such legislation cannot be justified either by the need to confer probative value on the address of domicile indicated on the identity card, or by the effectiveness of the identification and checking of that address by the competent national authority. (curia.europa.eu/photo: freepik.com)

The full text of the decision is available here

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Editorial

Editorial
George Kazoleas, Lawyer

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